Update: Microsoft told TechCrunch it will continue to support bitcoin. The company said “inaccurate information” had been posted online causing the confusion:
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.
Microsoft has quietly stopped supporting bitcoin payments just over one year after it added support for the crypto currency within the Windows Store.
Software encyclopedia Softpedia first noticed the change, which is confirmed in an FAQ note for customers:
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.
We contacted Microsoft for further details, but did not hear back from the company at the time of writing. (We’ll let you know what the company says if it has a public statement on this.)
Microsoft was lauded for adopting bitcoin back at the end of 2014. The company, which partnered with payment firm Bitpay, said at the time that the move was a sign of “giving people options and helping them do more on their devices and in the cloud.”
It isn’t clear what has happened since then, presumably few Microsoft customers used the payment option which made its retention unnecessary.
Microsoft’s move comes amid challenging times for the bitcoin community, which is divided on whether the digital currency needs to make major changes to its infrastructure in order to increase its capacity in response to growth.
Microsoft’s support was never going to make or break bitcoin, but the decision of one of the largest tech firm’s to walk away is a clear sign that bitcoin is far from mainstream as a global currency. That’s not a total surprise or disaster — there are plenty of other uses for bitcoin and the technology that powers it beyond just being a consumer payment option.