Bitcoin is back at Microsoft after a two week hiatus.
Yesterday we reported that Microsoft had quietly removed the facility to pay in Bitcoin from the Microsoft Store, a change that took place on Boxing Day, without an accompanying official statement.
The removal of Bitcoin two weeks ago was due to the “unstable state of the bitcoin currency”, according to Bleeping Computer. Microsoft representatives, in response to queries, had said that the removal was temporary.
The average fee for a Bitcoin transaction is currently 31.43 USD (median 18.03 USD) according to Bitinfocharts.com, which is obviously a problematic element of this payment system. In addition to this, slow transaction processing times are an issue for retailers – the average transaction time as of yesterday was around an hour, according to Blockchain.info. In the time that it takes for a transaction to be processed, Bitcoin could lose value, and the retailer could lose money.
The higher the transaction fee paid, the more likely the transaction is to be processed quickly by a miner. It is also possible to not pay a fee at all by way of a manual override, but then your transaction will most likely not be processed.
Yesterday, a Microsoft spokeswoman told news.com.au: “We’ve restored bitcoin as a payment option in our store after working with our provider to ensure lower bitcoin amounts would be redeemable by customers.”
Microsoft added the Bitcoin button in 2014. According to the Microsoft support page, it can be used to purchase games, movies, and apps in the Windows and Xbox stores, but cannot be used to buy items from the Microsoft online store. It also can’t be used to buy gift cards, and it once deposited, it won’t be refunded.
Microsoft temporarily suspended Bitcoin payments in 2015 and 2016, for similar reasons.