Even though Bitcoin was envisioned as a peer-to-peer (P2P) system for exchanging digital cash, the reality of the BTC blockchain in 2019 is that transactions are highly dependent on major platforms such as BitPay, a digital currency payments processor that recently suffered an outage lasting for more than three hours. Statements made by BitPay on December 22 confirmed that BTC payments were halted as a result of transaction issues.

BitPay account holders and users, who are mostly retailers, became aware of the technical issue on Sunday afternoon. The problem started at some point after lunchtime, when the BitPay service was completely unavailable, and it lasted until well past 4:00 PM for merchants in New York. BitPay clients who use the service to accept digital currency payments at their brick-and-mortar stores were the most vocal in terms of complaining about the outage on the Twitter social network.

The service outage could not have come at a worst time for BitPay, a company that recently announced the integration of the Gemini Dollar and USD Coin. It should be noted that the latter is backed by investment banking giant Goldma Sachs while the development team of the former is advising Bitcoin on Project Libra. BitPay has attracted controversy for its support of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), one of the tokens that emerged as part of a disagreement between Bitcoin miners and the core development team. BCH is supposed to be a decentralized digital currency, but the support it has obtained from major players such as BitPay has resulted in strong criticism among cryptocurrency purists.

When considering the state of the cryptocurrency markets over the last couple of years, BitPay has managed to post impressive growth. In 2018, during one of the worst years for Bitcoin and many other tokens, BitPay was able to handle up to a billion dollars worth of transactions. As of late 2019, the company has signed up more than 30,000 merchants around the world, not bad for a service provider operating in a very competitive and fragmented sector of the economy. BitPay executives often mention that market fragmentation is the reason why payment processors are needed to handle BTC transactions.