STRIPE INC. plans to give its customers access to Bitcoin via a conversion service four years after it halted support for the cryptocurrency. — MICHAEL FÖRTSCH/UNSPLASH

PAYMENT company Stripe, Inc. plans to give customers access to Bitcoin four years after suspending support for the cryptocurrency.

Stripe teamed up with crypto startup OpenNode to allow its customers to accept Bitcoin payments through a new app, the companies announced Tuesday. Using the app, Stripe customers will be able to convert incoming payments and any amount of their balance into Bitcoin. The service will be part of a public beta of a new apps marketplace from Stripe slated to launch in the next few weeks. OpenNode uses Lightning Network, which aims to make Bitcoin transactions faster and cheaper, to settle payments. 

The OpenNode app is another move forward into the crypto space for Stripe, which announced a stablecoin payments option through its Stripe Connect service for creators on Twitter in April. Stripe revived its push into crypto after rivals such as Block, Inc., PayPal Holdings, Inc. and Checkout.com made headway in the industry. The company began recruiting crypto talent last year and in March said it was helping digital-asset exchanges FTX and Blockchain.com with online payments and customer verification.

The partnership with OpenNode, which specializes in Bitcoin and raised $20 million at a $220-million valuation in February, shows Stripe’s renewed interest in Bitcoin, the world’s most widely held digital currency. While Stripe had been an early adopter of Bitcoin payments, the company ended support for the cryptocurrency in 2018, citing slow transaction times, rising fees and a lack of interest from customers as reasons for the decision.

Stripe’s renewed Bitcoin support has the potential to broaden usage of the cryptocurrency among its millions of customers. The company’s embrace of Bitcoin is seen as a positive development for crypto enthusiasts as digital currency prices fall following the collapse of the TerraUSD stablecoin. — Bloomberg