Online merchants who use Stripe for their payment-processing needs will soon be able to accept payments in Bitcoin.
Stripe chief executive Patrick Collison touted the faddish payment method in a conversation with Re/code. But he also noted in passing that Stripe will soon be adding something far more useful: The ability to process payments via the Automated Clearinghouse, or ACH.
ACH is the infrastructure used to process direct deposits and bank payments in the U.S., and it’s far more significant — now — than Bitcoin payments. The ACH processed over 21 billion transactions, comprising $36.9 trillion in value, in 2012.
By contrast, Bitcoin payment volume currently amounts to about $30 million per day (56,000 bitcoins daily), or about $11 billion per year.
Bitcoin is trendy, however, and a wide range of merchants, from Expensify to Overstock.com to your local pub, already accept payments in Bitcoin. But for online payments in Bitcoin, merchants until now have been limited to smaller, Bitcoin-specific alternative, such as BitPay or Andreessen Horowitz-backed CoinBase. Stripe is the first major payment processing company to accept the currency.
By accepting ACH payments, Stripe will enable merchants to request a customer’s bank info — usually via a voided check — in order to set up direct, recurring payments that go directly against the customer’s bank account.
Or, if they want to, they can accept payments in the volatile quasi-currency known as Bitcoin.