Twitch No Longer Accepts Bitcoin — Why?

In a move first detected last week on Reddit, it appears Twitch has removed the ability to pay for subscriptions via Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency. If you’ve been living off the grid for the past few years, Twitch.tv is a live-streaming platform (now owned by Amazon) that’s become wildly popular with gamers and people who love watching gamers.

At first glance, there appears to be major demographic crossover between Twitch users and the perceived crypto market. Upon further inspection, there were some clear concerns. Some of which were present from the beginning, some that appeared more recently.

Benefits of Bitcoin as a Payment Option

Let’s start with why Bitcoin is important in the first place. In a world where Twitch already accepts payments via Subway restaurant gift cards, it only makes sense that Bitcoin would also be accepted. And until recently, that was the case.

There’s no questioning Bitcoin’s standing as the cryptocurrency of choice worldwide, and there’s every reason to think it will continue on its current path to mainstream acceptance. Twitch, meanwhile, is at the forefront of a generation that’s doing things a little bit different from the generations prior. This is a group of individuals who’ve made playing video games one of the coolest industries in the world. In many ways, it’s the same group that has made Bitcoin one of the fastest growing payment alternatives the world has ever seen.

So, while Twitch and Bitcoin seem to be a match made in generational heaven, we can over simplify their divorce as bad timing.

Bitcoin Price Volatility

Perhaps the most obvious reason for removing Bitcoin payments is the extreme price changes over the past 12–18 months. After seeing record setting growth throughout 2017 and early 2018, the roof came crashing down. With a high north of $23,000 per Bitcoin, the price is now below $4000. This is just too risky for most.

Difficult to Make Payments

Purchasing Bitcoin from a cryptocurrency exchange, then moving it to your personal BTC wallet, then to Twitch, is a pretty easy task. DISCLAIMER: It’s easy if you’ve done it a million times before! Truth is, there are too many steps involved, and one misstep or typo could lead to losing all of your Bitcoin.

At the time of this writing, there is no easy way to setup recurring Bitcoin payments, AKA following the subscription model that Twitch uses. So if a user wanted their subscription to remain in good standing they would need to first remember their payment was due, then go through the lengthy process of finding crypto keys, punching them in correctly, waiting for the payment to be validated, and repeat monthly. Much more involved than, say, typing in a credit card number once and forgetting about it forever.

No Mass Adoption… Yet

Let’s pretend for a moment that the price of Bitcoin remained stable with little or no fluctuations. And let’s pretend again that payments were easy, one-click like with credit cards. Simply having the ability to do something doesn’t guarantee its success. You still need enough users to want to pay with Bitcoin, or whatever the currency of debate is. Twitch could probably set up a payment gateway for Prussian Francs, but that doesn’t mean they should.

Even though Bitcoin hasn’t reached that crucial tipping point yet doesn’t mean it won’t. It just might take longer than some want.

Is That it for Bitcoin and Twitch?

Not likely, no. As mentioned above, a few items need to fall in place before Twitch can make a successful return to Bitcoin payments. Price stability and mass adoption would make a lot of people happy both inside and outside of Twitch, but one of the biggest barriers of entry for any company thinking about accepting cryptocurrency is ease of use.

Once a company comes up with an easier way, it will become the way.