Cryptocurrency is a form of currency that is digital, as opposed to the physical currencies that most of us are accustomed to. Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, operates independently of a central bank, making it virtually impossible for governments to restrict or control. This makes Bitcoin a particularly attractive technology to work with, as it liberates users from many annoyances that come with traditional currency, transactions, and restrictions.
Bitcoin began the year with a value just slightly under $1,000 USD. It has now passed a record high of $18,000 USD, a nearly 2,000% value gain in under a year. It's been a powerful and intriguing time for Bitcoin, and has revealed how truly volatile the currency can be - in its current state, can it be reasonably exchanged in day-to-day transactions?
Steam integrated support for Bitcoin as a payment option early last year, in April 2016. It currently stands as one of the largest online marketplaces for purchasing and playing games, with tens of millions of users and over one million new members registering each month.
Due to the currency's drastic and everlasting fluctuation, it may have a different value from the time of a purchase and the actual transactions' confirmation time. For example, if a user spends $60 worth of Bitcoin for a game, it's likely that the value of $60 worth of Bitcoin will change by the time the transaction is confirmed. That causes one of two primary issues to take place:
- If the Bitcoin value decreases during that time, the user must compensate it's lost value (along with two total transaction fees, instead of the usual one). In this scenario, it's also possible to get a full refund from Steam directly.
- If the Bitcoin value increases during that time, the user has now spent too much, causing the need for the remaining amount to be refunded by Steam. (two transaction fees must also be paid when the transaction is refunded, as it's a separate transaction from the original purchase)
In either case, it appears to be more of a headache than it's worth for both Steam and the users, which is why Steam is dropping all support for the currency at this time. They have stated the following:
"We may re-evaluate whether Bitcoin makes sense for us and for the Steam community at a later date."
Therefore we may see its return to Steam if the currency does reach a point of reasonable stability in the future. The adoption rate of Bitcoin appears to be increasing as more important figures discuss it on social media, which may be a good indicator of potential feasibility for the masses.
The value of Bitcoin has become more unpredictable over the past few months than it has in its entire history, with recent weeks having a multi-thousand dollar increase or decrease. When Steam initially added support for the currency last year, Bitcoin was still volatile but not nearly to the degree that it has been in recent months.
For now, you are free to continue making purchases on Steam with your currency of choice, as listed here.