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OKPAY Takes Bitcoin Hiatus

Op-ed - OKPAY Takes Bitcoin Hiatus

One year and two months after heralding “the ultimate integration of bitcoin” into their system, the ecommerce company OKPAY has announced that it is suspending its “complete Bitcoin integration.” In a statement on Monday, OKPAY told its users; “Dear customers, we are currently suspending bitcoin processing” with the headline “Bitcoin processing temporarily suspended.” While no longer listing bitcoin as a payment option for individual users, a statement from the bitcoin exchange service Mt. Gox indicated that OKPAY may be allowing some of its larger customers (including Mt. Gox) time to phase out its bitcoin related service.

Another major bitcoin exchange using OKPAY, BTC-e, had users noting that they were no longer able to make deposits into the exchange using OKPAY’s service beginning the second week of May. BTC-e announced on 11 May that OKPAY deposits would be restored “next week.” There has been no indication since then that the issued has been resolved, or as to whether the cause of the problem originated from the exchange or the payment service.

Although OKPAY themselves provided no rationale for their decision in their most recently released announcement, a cached version of a previous announcement on their website says that they were temporarily ending their bitcoin related services “due to the exchange rate instability and current market situation.” It went on to say “We monitor the situation on the market and as soon as it will become possible to resume processing – we will certainly do so.” Dated 12 April, the timing of this earlier announcement seems to indicate that the company was having ongoing problems adding bitcoin alongside its other payment methods. According to the cache, the announcement was taken down sometime after 20 May.

OKPAY’s trust in the viability of bitcoin in their system may have been shaken after an OKPAY user reported on that they had successfully double-spent over 211 BTC to OKPAY and a seperate address controlled by the user during the block chain fork of 12 March 2013. The same user also reported that an approximately 65 BTC he had sent separately to OKPAY was not successfully credited to the approriate account. Somewhat of a standoff ensued, but was resolved with OKPAY refunding the 65 BTC only after the customer returned the double-spent 211 BTC. OKPAY support staff confirmed the situation on a forum thread started by the double-spender.

With their latest announcement leaving no indication as to if or when service will be restored, bitcoiners are left wondering whether the stoppage is a temporary measure to provide time for OKPAY to implement solutions to problems that plague the interaction between bitcoin and existing financial networks, or whether the company has decided that the effort required to use bitcoin is beyond their willingness or ability to integrate it into their system.