Future Tense

Bitcoin Is Still Basically Useless for Making Payments

Steam will no longer be accepting Bitcoin.


Steam, a popular platform for buying video games, announced on Wednesday that it will no longer be accepting payment in the form of bitcoin because of the volatility of its worth and transaction fees.

Valve, the company that owns Steam, noted the value for Bitcoin only stays stable for a certain period of time and can change before a transaction has been completed. The statement announcing the decision reads, in part, “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.”

Valve’s shirking of bitcoin is another development in a broader debate about the usefulness of the cryptocurrency. There are some major companies, such as Microsoft and DISH, accepting bitcoin payment, but few others have followed suit. Its volatility and transaction costs are a common sticking point for those looking to use it as a currency, yet the possible solutions to these pitfalls could imperil the decentralization that makes bitcoin appealing in the first place. 

For example, transactions can often get bottlenecked, so some users have suggested expanding the network’s capacity. But if the expansion occurs too quickly, many assert that only big banks and companies would have the resources to record the wealth of transactions.

There was in fact a proposal to double Bitcoin’s capacity in November, but users voted it down. However, the Bitcoin Cash fork, which was created in August and allows for a greater volume of transactions, could give us a glimpse into whether these concerns are merited. Bitstamp, one of the most established exchanges for cryptocurrency, announced that it would trade Bitcoin Cash in November.

The concerns have not stopped bitcoin from reaching record after record this month. The value of a bitcoin hit $10,000 for the first time near the end of last month. It traded at more than $14,000 on Wednesday.