BitPay adopts Payment Protocols, becomes unusable except with several wallets

Many Bitcoin users noticed recently that Bitcoin payments gateway BitPay have changed the way their invoices work.

Previously, BitPay used to present the customer with a Bitcoin address to deposit funds to, and the payment could’ve been done manually using absolutely any Bitcoin wallet.

As of recently, BitPay started showing the invoices with the Payment Protocol URLs and QR codes, without listing an actual Bitcoin address for payments.

Here’s how a BitPay invoice issued by the hosting company Namecheap looked on August 22, 2018:

bitpay invoices unusable

The Payment Protocol URL starts with bitcoin:?r=https:// and can be opened only in several wallets. The Payment Protocol supported wallets are:

  • BitPay Wallet
  • Copay Wallet
  • Mycelium Wallet
  • Airbitz Wallet
  • Electrum Wallet
  • Bitcoin.org Wallet
  • Bitcoin.com Wallet
  • BRD Wallet (breadwallet)

If the wallet of your choice is not on the list (and there are dozens more legitimate wallets in existence) you will have NO WAY of paying your invoice.

Notably, BitPay are updating their customer support article on the issue daily:

bitpay support paying without a bitcoin address article updated

They’ve added an explainer video and a list of supported wallets.

Reasons for migration to Payment Protocol

The declared reasons for Payment Protocol migration are listed in BitPay knowledgebase as follows:

  • Payment Protocol makes sure you send exactly the right amount of Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash.
  • With Payment Protocol you don’t need to worry about failed payments, delayed orders, or refunds.
  • Payment Protocol adds new security to payments, protecting you from sending payments to imposters or attackers.
  • Payment Protocol makes sure you include a high enough miner fee for the Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash network to confirm your transaction.

What the Payment Protocol means in reality, though, is not as encouraging:

  • Inability to use preferred wallets that are not on the list
  • Inability to adjust fees
  • Inability to track payments and confirmations in a block explorer.

That is, BitPay is opting for some sort of hassle-free usability where users do not control much but get a supposedly smoother process. At the same time the Bitcoin-inherent properties like customization of payments and transparency are lost here.

The true reason for the change could be to onboard more users to the BitPay wallet, since storing funds AT BitPay and using them to pay BitPay invoices would be the easiest way for most.

Solutions

BitPay are pretty eloquent in their suggested solution, either

  • Transfer funds to a Payment Protocol supporting wallet (the actual BitPay wallet being first on the list)
  • Contact your wallet provider asking for Payment Protocol support.

None of these are viable solutions for the 15-minute invoice payment window, so we’d imagine many users just abandon their invoices and seek alternative payment methods.

BitPay controversy

BitPay was previously criticized for adding the mysterious “network fee” to BTC price, while showcasing the 0 network fee for BCH payments:

bitpay adding network fee to btc

Some have said this may have been part of a BCH-promoting agenda, some claimed it’s just a shady practice,  while BitPay explained why they started charging the network fee.

In August 2018 the Payment Protocol switch is getting a lot of criticism as well, e.g.:

BitPay Accused Of Unethical Business Practices, Self-Hosted Alternative Is Here
Is BitPay anti-Bitcoin?

A lot of Bitcoin enthusiasts have been advocating switching to an open-source BitPay alternative BTCPay Server or the hosted solution Globee.

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