Valve has removed the ability for users to pay for goods on Steam using Bitcoin, blaming the decision on ‘high fees and volatility’.
The company highlights the fact that Bitcoin transaction fees have now jumped as high as $20 per transaction – a far cry from the $0.20 fee that was active when Steam first added support for the currency.
“Historically, the value of Bitcoin has been volatile, but the degree of volatility has become extreme in the last few months. This creates a problem for customers trying to purchase games with Bitcoin,” Valve said.
“When checking out on Steam, a customer will transfer x amount of Bitcoin for the cost of the game, plus y amount of Bitcoin to cover the transaction fee charged by the Bitcoin network. The value of Bitcoin is only guaranteed for a certain period of time so if the transaction doesn’t complete within that window of time, then the amount of Bitcoin needed to cover the transaction can change.
“The normal resolution for this is to either refund the original payment to the user, or ask the user to transfer additional funds to cover the remaining balance. In both these cases, the user is hit with the Bitcoin network transaction fee again. This year, we’ve seen increasing number of customers get into this state.
“At this point, it has become untenable to support Bitcoin as a payment option. We may re-evaluate whether Bitcoin makes sense for us and for the Steam community at a later date.”
The move comes after a particularly unstable few weeks for the Bitcoin economy.
At the end of November, Bitcoin both hit a new record-high value and saw its value decline a massive 20 per cent in a single day – all of which came on a 1,100 per cent surge in year-to-date value. Bitcoin again hit a new record high yesterday, passing the $14,000 barrier.
Financial institutions remain dismissive of the digital currency, however. Coutts yesterday said that “currencies like Bitcoin have nothing but sentiment backing them up”, while the chief executive of Nordea Bank called Bitcoin a “joke” and an “absurd” construction.
There are also serious security concerns – CNBC reported just today that over $60m worth of Bitcoin was stolen in an online hack of cryptocurrency mining platform NiceHash.