South African Payment Gateway Drops BTC Over Fees and Network Congestion

On July 12, South African payment gateway service Payfast announced the company is dropping bitcoin core (BTC) payments due to network congestion and high fees. Payfast emphasized that BTC has a number of limitations and design flaws which makes it an “impractical substitute for cash.”

According to a blog post written by Payfast, one of South Africa’s largest online payment gateways, BTC payments will no longer be processed after July 20, 2019. Payfast is a popular service provider with more than 80,000 registered merchants and was founded in 2007 by Jonathan Smit and Andy Higgins. The company blogpost details that unfortunately the company has found numerous limitations and “design flaws unique to Bitcoin that make it an impractical substitute for cash.” This includes high transaction fees and long confirmation times for Payfast customers. The company explained that it had tried various ways to mitigate the issues at hand, but had found that the underlying problem stems from the root of BTC’s fundamentals.

“The resultant poor user experience has led us to re-evaluate bitcoin as a payment method on our platform and a decision has been taken to discontinue support for bitcoin from midnight 20 July 2019,” Payfast wrote. The company further said that BTC once held the promise of a “global currency that would allow a faster, cheaper, and easier way to move money on the Internet,” but this never came to fruition. “Our aim was to enable that promise for our buyers and merchants, and to support this alternative to traditional payment methods,” Payfast highlighted. The South African company had partnered with the local cryptocurrency exchange Luno to provide an intermediary between a buyer’s BTC wallet and the Payfast service.

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