American digital payment company Stripe has announced it will soon accept Bitcoin payments and is currently running a closed beta test with encrypted backup service Tarsnap.

Customers of Stripe can apply to join the beta but currently only Tarsnap is involved.

Colin Percival, Tarsnap’s founder, said: "Stripe’s support is crucial here. I tell them I want to get paid X dollars in bitcoins, and they tell me how many bitcoins I should ask for and what address they should be sent to. Then they give me the dollars I asked for – minus a small processing fee."

"This is the natural next step in Stripe’s plans to open up new markets for its users by allowing them to accept any currency or payment instrument their customers want to pay with," said a Stripe spokesperson.

Stripe provides access to online payments to businesses and individuals. It is known for targeting small businesses that may have previously signed up with rival PayPal.

John Collinson, co-founder of Stripe, described the company as "a programming language for payments". Businesses can begin using it with just one line of code.

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