Bitpay vs Coinbase, Comparing Bitcoin Payment Providers August 06 2013, 0 Comments
TL:DR Coinbase has an almost unfair advantage of having customer accounts for their wallet service. This enables a uniquely smooth checkout/payment process for Coinbase users, of which there are +300,000, and they will likely grab a large portion of new, more mainstream users.
Both are great for simple, setup, and creating single use buttons for a specific product. If you already have a shopping cart, Bitpay has plugins available for a larger number of cart integrations, but Coinbase is adding them at a staggering pace. I encourage you to look at which carts each one services. Both services are excellent, and how they suit your needs may vary. No matter what I say, I do not doubt that payment technology in bitcoin will be evolving very rapidly.
I recently went through the excercise of choosing between BitPay and Coinbase. I'll try to outline what I learned from that experience. Bitpay is focused almost entirely on payment processing for merchants. Coinbase is a more full service approach. It combines:
- an online wallet
- the ability to transfer money from a bank account
- the ability purchase bitcoin directly through their service (though the BTC actually comes from the major exchanges)
- payment processing similar to BitPay
Simple payment buttonsBoth services make it very easy to create a button that you can post on your site, for checking out and paying for a specific item. Both allow you to set the price in either BTC or USD. If set in USD, the BTC price will be determined based on a weighted average of the major exchanges. When we was getting set up, Bitpay had the edge in this case, as they allow you to create custom fields, and let the user specify any quantity of the item to purchase and pay for. October Edit: Wow... In response to this answer, Coinbase has actually just added this ability to add fields for shipping addresses and other custom data! http://blog.coinbase.com/
InvoicingThere is really no material difference that I can see here. Enter some numbers and an email address, send to client.
Callbacks(Coinbase) / Hosted Checkout(bitpay):
As far as I can tell, these are fairly similar. The site collects the users information, POST it to Coinbase or BitPay, the service takes and verifies the payment and then POSTS it back to your site. The most significant difference I can see is that Bitpay allows you to post as many custom parameters as you like, whereas Coinbase allows only one. Though that's not an insurmountable problem
Shopping Cart Plugins
Previously, I saw Bitpay as the clear winner here. However, Coinbase has been adding shopping cart plugins at a rapid rate. For an up to date listing, and to check if your cart software is supported, see their own plugin listings: Bitpay: https://bitpay.com/bitcoi
Coinbase is actually free for their services, but charge 1% to change bitcoin into fiat currencies. They've also recently announced that the first $1,000,000 in processing fees will be waived. Bitpay charges 1% for transaction processing, but then does the exchange and direct deposit to your bank for free. Bitpay has recently announced subscription based services, which waive the processing fees. The subscriptions start at $30 per month, and have varying tiers with added features and increased levels of support, up to a dedicated account manager.
The rate that Bitpay or Coinbase will convert the bitcoin that you accept, into dollars is calculated based on their own calculations using the current exchange rates on the sites where they buy dollars from. From a few spot checks I've done, Coinbase tends to give a better price to the customer most of the time. ie. they value BTC higher against USD. You can compare them: https://bitpay.com/api/ra
Customer ExperienceHere's the Bitpay payment page:
A slight drawback is that one extra click required to pay with a bitcoin address.
Checkout Design Aesthetic
A matter of taste certainly. Bitpay has a little bit of a retro feel, which I think is intentional, and over all, it seems geared towards a more "traditional Bitcoin user" Coinbase is more current in it's use of a flat UI, and their approach, slightly prioritizes their own users, though getting to the QR code and wallet address is only a click away.
This is a tricky thing for many subscription based services that would like to accept bitcoin. If I have your credit card on file, I can just charge it again each month. There's no way to get pre-authorized permission to charge a bitcoin address each month (short of getting their private key). Coinbase enables recurring payments for services, if and only if the user has a Coinbase customer account.
I've been asked by someone which service would provide better anonymity to their customers. If a customer were to use Coinbase's check out via their account, then Coinbase would have a record of that. Otherwise, if the customer elects to send payment via the bitcoin protocol using a wallet address both services should be equivalent.