American cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has announced the launch of a new service making it easier for merchants to accept cryptocurrency payments. The service will be made available worldwide as of today and will enable “merchants to accept multiple cryptocurrencies directly into a user-controlled wallet”.

Coinbase states that its mission is to “create an open financial system, so we’ve designed this solution to serve merchants worldwide.” They note that the service is not hosted – “merchants have full control of their own digital currency.” Merchants can sign up with just an email address and phone number.

The facility will be called Coinbase Commerce and sellers will be able to add it into their “checkout flow or… as a payment option on an e-commerce platform”. Shopify, one of the world’s leading providers of ecommerce solutions, has already added the option to integrate Coinbase Commerce to its checkouts. Coinbase say that they will be “actively adding more integrations to make accepting cryptocurrency as easy as possible”.

The service is currently available for all currencies supported by Coinbase: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin. With Coinbase rumoured to be adding new cryptocurrencies this year, we can expect these options to increase.

The news is a welcome development in the growth of cryptocurrencies as means of payment rather than speculative assets. Late last year, when interest in cryptocurrencies was at a peak, network congestion prevented their use as a payment option. Payment provider Stripe, an early adopter of Bitcoin for online payments, discontinued its Bitcoin option saying that the cryptocurrency was currently, “better-suited to being an asset than being a means of exchange”. However, they did not shut the door to offering such options in future, and stated that they were, “very optimistic about cryptocurrencies overall”.

Hopefully Coinbase’s offering can go some way to integrating cryptocurrencies into the regular economy. If it pulls it off, we can expect other payment providers to follow suit.

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