When I saw the news 3 days ago that Microsoft has stopped accepting Bitcoin, and has ended support for the crypto-currency for its various products, I felt a bit deflated. It just seemed as if big tech firms were ganging up on me. Bitcoin, the currency of the Internet invented in 2008, for me, represented freedom from the limitations of national currencies. No more forex market was how i saw it.
But Microsoft has come out to refute the story. The tech giant is saying that what appeared on its website was a huge mistake. This was not an ordinary mistake involving one or two words though. It was as if it was deliberately typed without giving any room for ambiguity. The message on the website read,
“Microsoft Store doesn’t accept Bitcoin. You can no longer redeem Bitcoin into your Microsoft account. Existing balances in your account will still be available for purchases from Microsoft Store, but can’t be refunded,”
The message sent ripples around the crypto-currency world naturally. Was this another decisive nail in Bitcoin’s coffin? That was the underlying question on most people’s mind. And Microsoft rejecting Bitcoin would have been a dramatic turn around in a very short time. This is because, it was just in December 2014 that the company added it as a payment option to a lot of fanfare. There was a lot of hope then that the Internet’s currency would soon become very mainstream, making online Commerce a lot more easier. For me, I saw myself saying good riddance to bad rubbish to services like PayPal.
Recently, things have being a bit rough for Bitcoin. Firstly, one of the lead developers of Bitcoin, Mike Hearn, announced he was no longer involved with the crypto-currency and was selling all his interests in the company. His reason: Bitcoin has failed. Coming from such a man, it was bound to have an impact. The first to be affected was the worth of Bitcoin. Bitcoin instantly lost 10% of its value in the wake of the announcement.
That Hearn quitted was a fall out of the long battle between him and other top developers over the direction of the company in the face of new challenges. Basically, it was a question of whether the processing mechanisms of Bitcoin should be enlarged to make it possible to process more than three payments per second. Hearn was in the ‘enlarge it’ camp.
The second major setback was a direct result of the resignation of Hearn. Its performance over the next few days was nothing short of dismal. It lost a further 13% of its value. This is a far cry from from the 35% gain in value which got it the ‘award’ of 2015 Best Currency. This was really impressive if you take into account that the global economy was in a slump, mostly fuelled by the slowdown of the Chinese economy. This performance of Bitcoin showed that it is gaining more acceptance in the world. Then the series of bad news started.
It was just as well Microsoft admitted that the message on its website was an error. The negative ripples effect of a tech giant losing faith in Bitcoin can only be imagined.
Clarifying the error, Microsoft said,
“We continue to support Bitcoin for adding money to your Microsoft Account which can be used for purchasing content in the Windows and Xbox stores. We apologize for inaccurate information that was inadvertently posted to a Microsoft site, which is currently being corrected.”
So for now, the world can go back to making Bitcoin stronger without the distractions of negative news.
photo credits: netdna.com; cnbc.com