The use of Bitcoin for commercial purchases has been drastically reduced this year, despite the fact that the digital currency has started to meet one of the fundamental characteristics of any payment currency: stability.
The value of the Bitcoin managed by the main payment processors has been reduced by almost 80% in the last 12 months (until September), according to data published by Chainalysis. This suggests that cryptocurrency costs it to be a serious alternative to money issued by states.
Months of relative calm in Bitcoin prices after the sudden changes recorded over the past winter have reinforced hopes that its use for payments would be expanded, which was its stated goal.
But its lower use as a payment currency has meant that large financial corporations and other participants in the cryptocurrency field have launched themselves to look for better technological infrastructures to encourage the use of Bitcoin.
"There has to be a minimum of stability if you want to turn it into another form of money," said JBS Teves, UBS strategist in London.
The "blockchain" technology, in which all Bitcoin activities are recorded and validated, can process only a fraction of the transactions per second that can be made by the major credit card companies. This makes its massive use impractical.
Bitcoin is still subject to great fluctuations in its price, as evidenced by the sharp crash this week. However, during part of last month, the cryptocurrency was more stable than US shares.
See also: G20 does not recognize "cryptocurrencies" as sovereign currencies.
Despite the increasing stability, the value of Bitcoin payments has plummeted from a peak of 427 million dollars in December to 96 million September, according to data Chainalysis.
The company has collected data from 17 Bitcoin payment processors, including BitPay, based in Atlanta, one of the largest. Most companies that accept Bitcoin do not do it directly and instead use intermediaries like BitPay to convert the cryptocurrency into legal currency.
There is no complete clarity on the Bitcoin payments usage data, since Bitcoin transactions with other currencies tend to be included together with their use for commercial payments.
That said, different numbers of payment processors reflect a downward trend. Data of CoinpaymentsFor example, based in Vancouver, they show that inbound and outbound transactions have been cut by more than half between January and October, according to the OXT blockchain analysis site.
Coinpayments He did not respond to requests for comments from this agency.
"Processing payments with Bitcoin is experiencing a slow but steady decline," said Lex Sokolin, global head of the financial technology strategy at the research firm. Next autonomous, on the data of Coinpayments.
See also: Google announces a severe blow against the cryptocurrency trade.
First decade of Bitcoin
During its first decade, Bitcoin has attracted a combination of investors, some convinced that they can reformulate global finances by shifting traditional payment methods and other seduced by the rapid profits that led them to operate at about $ 20,000 in December.
Since then, it has lost three-quarters of its value, falling on Wednesday at an annual low of $ 4.327, resulting in damage to companies hoping to benefit from growing investor interest.
Chip maker Nvidia Corp, for example, suffered a sharp decline last week after blaming its disappointing results on the accumulation of unsold chips after the cryptocurrency boom has shrunk.
However, the relative stability of Bitcoin this year has raised the expectation that its use as a means of payment by individuals and businesses can be extended.
"The lack of volatility is a step in the right direction that is starting to make it viable for some of the non-retail use cases," said Zeeshan Feroz, CEO of Coinbase in the UK, one of the largest cryptocurrency markets.
But both the traditional financial companies and the entrepreneurs of the cryptocurrency claim that stability is not enough.
To expand its reach, Bitcoin must be faster and cheaper, say these companies. Clearer rules on a resource that has irritated financial regulators around the world would also help give users a sense of legitimacy, said Teves, the UBS analyst.