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BitPay logo

BitPay logo

As lofty as the bitcoin community’s planet-changing ambitions can be, the mainstream investment world is still focused on one thing: The bottom line. Trading volumes and prices can be manipulated; merchant acceptance and successful conferences can be little more than well-executed publicity. What counts, at least as far as Wall Street is concerned, is how much money is actually moving into, out of and through bitcoin. While it can’t speak for everyone else, Atlanta-based bitcoin payment processor BitPay claims to be handling about $1 million a day.

If accurate and the trend holds through the rest of 2014, this would represent a nearly three-fold growth over the $110 million in payments BitPay processed last year. Assuming BitPay’s closest competitor, Coinbase, is seeing similar transaction volume, bitcoin may already be seeing over half-a-billion in payments this year. Considering that bitcoin has only been in development for five years, and only on the mainstream radar for around two, it’s hard not to be astonished by this level of growth.

Last week, BitPay’s CTO Stephen Pair claimed that the company was signing up between 500 and 1,000 new merchants every day. Should that estimate prove accurate, BitPay may have nearly 200,000 merchant partners by the end of the year. The company already works with some high-profile clients, including Zynga, Virgin Galactic, WordPress, Gyft, Shopify and TigerDirect.

No recent details on Coinbase’s transaction volume have been released. Both companies have similar levels of venture capital and staff, so it would be surprising if there was a huge difference in their results. Both also face significant competition from next-generation bitcoin services like Circle, which appear to be better integrated with traditional payment systems.

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