I won’t dazzle you with an interesting opening paragraph, I’ll just give it to you straight – there are updates to Valve’s Steam client that may see Bitcoin being accepted and used as currency for purchases on the Steam store, and possibly for in-game items as well. These changes were hinted at by Valve last year when they updated the regions in which they priced games in the local currency. The company is always looking for ways to save consumers money and to make more money for themselves, and investing in Bitcoin by allowing it as a currency might be a good idea. Some regions overseas like Australia already have this option available to them, and we’re probably going to get it very soon.
The confirmation that Steam will support Bitcoin purchases was uncovered through information leaks from Valve’s translation services. Through this service, Valve uses the power of crowdsourcing to help translate and localise the Steam client for regions in which English isn’t the preferred, or indeed official, home language. The leaks consist of messages that the customer sees while processing a Bitcoin purchase, and it looks like Valve is using Bitpay to facilate the process. Check it out:
bitcoin_authorization_explanation Bitcoin transactions are authorized through the BitPay website. Click the button below to open a new web browser to initiate the transaction. bitcoin_payment_tips_header Tips for Bitcoin customers bitcoin_payment_tips_text This process can take up to 60 seconds. To avoid purchasing failures, please do not hit your back button or close the bitpay window before the process is complete. checkout_payment_method_specific_note_bitcoin Note: Any approved refunds for purchases made with Bitcoin can only be credited to your Steam Wallet. checkout_receipt_pending_bitcoin_long Your purchase is currently in progress and is waiting for confirmation of Bitcoin delivery from BitPay. This process can take several minutes to a few days for confirmation. Valve will send an email receipt to you when payment is received for this purchase. During this time you may continue shopping for other games, though you will not be able to re-purchase any products that are pending in this transaction. checkout_receipt_pending_bitcoin_text For questions regarding your payment processing status, please contact BitPay [https://bitpay.com/].
If you’re a regular Steam user who pays with a credit card, none of these changes affect you, and ditto for those of you who use Steam vouchers or pay with your debit card. For those of you who already use Bitcoin in some fashion, though, this will probably excite you greatly. A number of large companies across the pond are adopting Bitcoin as a payment option, and the more companies that support it, the more legitimate it becomes as a currency to governments and companies around the world. Bitcoin isn’t just a payment solution that avoids the pitfalls of using banks or Paypal, it’s a more secure payment solution that works the same way all around the world. Its value is fluid and adaptable, although most people prefer to value it in dollars to make comparisons against established currencies already in use.
This is also beneficial to Valve, believe it or not. Valve’s use of Bitpay as a middleman for the transaction will save them about 3% in transaction fees compared to Paypal and 4% compared to credit card payments, not to mention that it doesn’t have to go through either of these companies to process a refund or handle a payment dispute – the user can do this with Valve directly, and Valve has the option to credit the user’s Steam wallet instead of refund the transaction.
Should you be chomping at the bit to use this feature inside Steam, do take note that the Bitcoin wallet transactions aren’t handled by the miners who validate the transfer – this is instead handled by Bitpay, who checks if a transaction is fraudulent before proceeding with payment. This means that instead of a transaction taking up to an hour for the verification to be done by the Bitcoin hive, the payment is done almost immediately. Valve and Bitpay’s use of zero-conf transactions shouldn’t worry you – instant payment solutions are necessary for Bitcoin to take off with the general public anyway – but it’s an interesting point nontheless. I hope these guys are ready for the next Steam sale.