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Retailer support for Bitcoin evaporates

14 July 2017 - 10:34 by Mike Price

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Although Bitcoin has taken the currency markets by storm in recent years, rising from obscurity and creating a kind of digital gold rush in the process, it is still not a big hit in the mainstream marketplace.

Bloomberg reports that of the 500 biggest retailers that offer safe shopping online, just three currently allow customers to pay using Bitcoin. This is not only a tiny fraction of the total, but is also indicative that support is shrinking, as in 2016 it was accepted by five outlets.

The value of Bitcoin is difficult to define, but it is tied more to its security and its anonymity rather than its buying power. This has led many commentators to argue that it makes more sense as an investment rather than as a means to buy products via safe shopping online.

Another reason that Bitcoin has not been embraced in the e-commerce market is that there are surprisingly steep fees associated with processing payments made in this currency. So there is not much incentive for retailers to offer the option in the first place, especially given how small the actual uptake would be compared with their wider customer base.

The good news for consumers is that there are still plenty of different ways to pay when buying products and services online. From traditional credit and debit cards to dedicated payment services like PayPal, there are few limitations.

It is even possible to pre-order items for collection online and then pick them up from a local store, where cash payments are accepted. This is the kind of versatility which has helped e-commerce to grow consistently in the UK each year.

For the time being, Bitcoin and other competing crypto-currencies seem set to stay out of the limelight, at least from a retail perspective, in spite of their booming values.