BitPay Inc. and Verifone Inc. early Tuesday said they are collaborating on a service that later this year will allow U.S. merchants using Verifone devices to accept as many as 11 cryptocurrencies in-store and online.
Consumers will be able to pay with a broad array of crypto wallets, including one offered by BitPay, according to the companies. They will link their mobile wallets to Verifone devices by scanning a QR code displayed on the device screen. Through the service, Atlanta-based BitPay will process five stablecoins as well as half a dozen other digital currencies, including Bitcoin, the companies said. The stablecoins are cryptocurrencies whose value is tied to the U.S. dollar.
The service will work with Verifone’s Engage or Android line of devices linked to the company’s cloud services. Information regarding Verifone’s installed base in the United States was not immediately available, though a spokesman says the company will “likely” expand the service to overseas markets early next year. Domestically, “we have several large merchants already lined up to be live later this year,” he adds. As with most ventures launched recently to enable merchants to accept cryptocurrency, stores enlisted in the Verifone-BitPay partnership will receive settlement funds in dollars.
With cryptocurrency values having risen sharply in recent months, the two companies say consumers are looking for ways to cash in. “Our merchant base is busy enabling several new advanced payment methods, and the appetite for crypto payments has exploded this year,” said Jeremy Belostock, head of advanced payment methods at San Jose, Calif.-based Verifone, in a statement. “Together, we have solved all the potential challenges for merchants. There’s no volatility or fraud-chargeback risk, low implementation costs, and consumers will find the payment experience very seamless.”
Bitcoin, which was trading around $29,000 at the start of the year, was pegged at close to $44,000 late Monday, though its value has shrunk somewhat from better than $50,000 since the spring.
While remaining skeptical about the utility of cryptocurrencies for retail transactions, some observers applaud aspects of the BitPay-Verifone partnership, particularly the acceptance of stablecoins in addition to the more widely known Bitcoin. “To exchange [stablecoins] into Bitcoin, you pay a high fee, The fact they are accepting stablecoins natively is good,” notes Aaron McPherson, founder and chief executive of the consultancy Payments101.com.
The involvement of Verifone, a nearly 40-year-old point-of-sale device provider with an installed base of 35 million machines in 150 countries, could prove to be a significant boost for crypto acceptance by ordinary merchants. The company says it processes in excess of $10.4 billion in payments annually, with a total value of $440 billion.
But McPherson points out that ventures such as the BitPay-Verifone partnership will require programs to expand the universe of cryptocurrency users, which remains relatively small. “I would like to see some sort of rewards program to incent ordinary people to use this,” he adds.