by Kieran Smith
Coinbase announced the launch of the Coinbase Commerce API on April 3, which makes it easier for merchants to accept cryptocurrencies as part of their existing e-commerce solution.
The API (Application Programming Interface) enables the merchant to automatically generate the option of paying with cryptocurrency and use the infrastructure provided by Coinbase; a seamless adoption which doesn’t require them to develop their own payment platform.
The API also enables integration with WordPress, and with Shopify, allowing smaller e-commerce enterprises to expand accepted payments into cryptocurrency.
The solution will enable Coinbase Commerce to more effectively compete with other payment enabling platforms, like Stripe, who recently announced that they were ending support for bitcoin payments to online merchants.
What is Coinbase Commerce?
Despite a host of complaints, culminating in a boycott from r/bitcoin, Coinbase remains the largest fiat gateway in the west.
Coinbase commerce, launched in February, is their own PayPal-like service; a new platform enabling merchants to accept payments with bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether, and litecoin. Using the platform on an e-commerce website adds a PayPal-like button to the checkout screen, and directs funds into a user-controlled wallet. In this way, merchants maintain full control over their funds.
The service can also be used in physical stores and differs from previous point-of-sale (POS) offerings by allowing more control over the balances merchants hold. Letting them store their keys and tokens locally.
However, as one astute Reddit observer noted, the system still presents a diversion from Satoshi’s original peer-to-peer vision:
“A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Any intermediary between your BTC payment and the merchant is violating the definition of Bitcoin and your privacy.” – Reddit user Bitcoin-Yoda
Coinbase are not alone with their offering; BitPay, one of the largest bitcoin payment processors, lets customers pay in bitcoin and bitcoin cash. But Coinbase commerce looks to be the first to offer easy integration of a range of cryptocurrencies.
Still, it is not certain whether or not the initiative will encourage merchants to take the extra payment method onboard. The volatility of bitcoin has led some merchants to rescind their acceptance of the cryptocurrency. This was cited by Steam as one of the key reasons they stopped accepting bitcoin as payment in December 2017.