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.”
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Network Congestion and High Transaction Fees Force Payfast to Drop BTC Support
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.
In a blog post published on July 12, 2019, the South African payment processor Payfast informed its customers it would be removing bitcoin core (BTC) from its payment options on July 20.
“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.

@PayFast Bitcoin Cash is the same version of Bitcoin that used to be fast, cheap and reliable. Bitpay supports it.
— ₿ Mike (@libertarianbit) July 12, 2019

Payfast remarked that buyers always paid the BTC amount, while sellers would receive a rand payment to their accounts. Luno also “locked the Bitcoin to ZAR exchange rate for a 10 minute window,” similarly to many cryptocurrency invoice solutions. For instance, the Atlanta-based Bitpay’s invoices last 14 minutes. However, if the person’s BTC transaction did not confirm within Luno’s invoice window, the payment was unsuccessful and a refund would be due. The Payfast blog post noted:
As Bitcoin has grown in popularity, it has become increasingly difficult for the network to sufficiently confirm transactions within the 10 minute time limit. Since the network isn’t able to handle the volume of instructions at the speed required, the majority of Bitcoin transactions on the Payfast platform ended up being unsuccessful.

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