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Steam Drops Bitcoin as Payment Option, Citing Price Surges

The rollercoaster rising value of Bitcoin has forced online gaming distributor Steam to drop the cryptocurrency as a payment method.

A year ago, it cost a mere $0.20 to process transaction fees for Bitcoin payments, but due to the digital currency's surging value, those fees can now reach as high as $20, according to Steam.

"At this point, it has become untenable to support Bitcoin as a payment option," the platform wrote in a Wednesday blog post.

Steam made the announcement as the value of a single bitcoin is surging to $14,000. That's huge leap from the $450 price when the platform began offering the digital currency as a payment method in April 2016.

Steam said it had no control over the high transaction fees, which are charged by the Bitcoin network.

For example, when customers made product purchases, the transactions were set to a fixed value for Bitcoin — but only for a set amount of time. If any transaction didn't complete within that window of time, it was subject to a potential price change, which can significantly alter the cost.

Steam tried to solve the problem by offering refunds to customers who overpaid. In times when Bitcoin's value suddenly sunk, Steam asked for customers to fork over additional funds to cover the remaining balance.

However, Steam said making up the balance for all these Bitcoin transaction is no longer "feasible" when the digital currency's value has been skyrocketing. In the last week alone, the price has gone up over $4000.

To process the Bitcoin payments, Steam had been using a company called BitPay, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

"We're disappointed we can't work with them right now," said BitPay communications manager James Walpole.

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He said that the volatile fees with Steam purchases can come from timing delays associated with confirming transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain, which is constantly being updated but can suffer from network congestion.

Some Bitcoin wallet services can also be slow to broadcast transactions, and take hours, instead of minutes, Walpole said.

BitPay is trying to streamline the payment processes. In the meantime, Steam said it may reconsider its decision to drop Bitcoin support at a later date.

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