By now, you've probably heard all about cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and Blockchain. It’s been a decade since Bitcoin sprang into existence, and Bitcoin paved the way for thousands of other cryptocurrencies (altcoins, in crypto slang). Amid all the cryptocurrency hype, it can be hard to keep track of what is actually happening in the strand of the cryptocurrency ecosystem that is perhaps most important to crypto's long-term survival: payment processing.
That's why developers may find themselves asking questions like these: How easy is it to set up an app to start accepting payments in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies? How many payment processing vendors support crypto? What does the process for integrating crypto payments into an app look like, and is it as easy as setting up payment processing in your app for fiat (i.e., traditional) currency?
If you think these questions don't matter, think again. There are a number of reasons for accepting payments from customers in cryptocurrency. Accepting crypto payments helps you reach a larger number of customers, especially in countries where certain types of traditional payment options are not widely supported. Crypto payments can also help to cut down on bank charges for both vendors and customers. And supporting crypto can help apps to stand out in crowded markets, just because of the buzz factor.
With this context in mind, this article surveys the state of cryptocurrency payment processing by evaluating available solutions and discussing what remains to be done to make crypto payment easier to integrate into applications.
Cryptocurrency Payment Processing Options
The payment processing solutions available for processing crypto payments are far outnumbered by those for processing fiat currency. The reason is quite obvious: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are still in their infancy. A lot is left to be done to make crypto mainstream, especially when it comes to transaction times.
That said, there are certainly crypto payment processors out there. In no particular order, here are some popular options available to developers who want to integrate crypto payments into their apps.
Coinbase is a popular choice when it comes to cryptocurrency payment processing. In fact, it is one of the world’s largest Bitcoin exchanges, with some 20 million users and over $150 billion already traded on the platform.
Coinbase makes it possible to quickly begin receiving cryptocurrency payments (Bitcoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum) without having to pay any fees to accept crypto. Coinbase offers a variety of payment options. They include e-commerce plugins, libraries (Python, Ruby, Node.js, PHP), and SDKs (Android, iOs, Unity). Coinbase’s options make it a great choice for crypto payment processing for virtually any kind of app.
BitcoinPay makes it easy and inexpensive to start accepting Bitcoin payments. BitcoinPay offers developers several payment processing integration options to cater to any use case: API & Button, mail, point of sale, and e-commerce plugins (WooCommerce, OpenCar, Magento, and PrestaShop). BitcoinPay’s API gives developers “superpowers” by allowing developers to customize the payment process to suit their needs. And e-commerce plugins make it seamless to integrate into an e-commerce platform.
CoinGate processes Blockchain payments. That means it is not only limited to Bitcoin payments. It supports Litecoin, Ethereum, Dash, Golem, and several other cryptocurrencies. It offers integration options including e-commerce plugins, Bitcoin point of sale, Bitcoin payment API, and payment buttons. In addition, CoinGate charges low fees when withdrawing in fiat currency, such as USD or EUR.
CointPayments is yet another cryptocurrency payment gateway that supports payments for Bitcoin and several other popular altcoins. Like the others, it offers e-commerce plugins, for even more e-commerce platforms. And CoinPayments offers many integration options that make payment even more simple: donation buttons, shopping cart button & plugin, invoice builder, API, Instant Payment Notification System (IPN), etc.
The cryptocurrency processors we’ve seen so far offer very similar integration options, distinguishing themselves in only a few places, such as the number of supported cryptocurrencies. Setting up your app to accept cryptocurrency payments using any of these solutions is akin to setting up payment processing for fiat currency.
What Remains to Be Done for Cryptocurrency Payments
Integrating and accepting cryptocurrency payments in applications is certainly possible, but there is still much to be done to make integration more seamless.
One major challenge is keeping cryptocurrency safe. In most cases, crypto transactions are irreversible, meaning that recovering funds from a fraudulent (or even just accidental) transaction is virtually impossible. This challenge requires developers to build extra safeguards into applications to ensure that each crypto transaction is valid before it begins.
Equally important is the payment processing time. With fiat payments, payments are processed within a few seconds and reflect in your account immediately. Cryptocurrency, however, takes longer to process, sometimes failing unexpectedly as a result. Certain cryptocurrencies are working to address this challenge, but Bitcoin, which remains the most popular cryptocurrency by far, takes very long to process — sometimes hours. Developers must also think about how to make sure their apps can accommodate very long transaction times, and make sure users remain aware of the state of a transaction until it is fully complete.
Even with the challenges inherent in cryptocurrencies that impede their widespread adoption, cryptocurrency payment processing, in general, is improving. Remember that the sector is barely a decade old; yet, there’s been so much innovation in a rather short time. Will crypto payment integration catch up with fiat payment integration? Probably, although it will certainly take some time before integrating crypto into your app is as easy as supporting fiat currency transactions using a simple solution like WorldPay's APIs.
Check out: Worldpay's Card-to-Crypto Exchange