A few days ago, Automattic engineer Andy Skelton announced to the world that effective immediately, WordPress upgrades can be purchased using Bitcoin. The Peer-To-Peer Digital Currency allows for instantaneous payments worldwide and operates without a central authority. “Managing transactions and issuing money are carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is also the name of the open source software which enables the use of this currency. The software is a community-driven open source project, released under the MIT license,” according to the website’s official welcome message.
The mid-November blog post by Skelton explained the reasoning behind the addition of Bitcoins as a viable currency for WordPress services: “At WordPress.com, our mission is making publishing democratic — accessible and easy for anyone, anywhere. And while anyone can start a free blog here, not everyone can access upgrades (like going ad-free or enabling custom design) because of limits on traditional payment networks,” Skelton wrote.
He added that “PayPal alone blocks access from over 60 countries, and many credit card companies have similar restrictions. Some are blocked for political reasons, some because of higher fraud rates, and some for other financial reasons. Whatever the reason, we don’t think an individual blogger from Haiti, Ethiopia, or Kenya should have diminished access to the blogosphere because of payment issues they can’t control. Our goal is to enable people, not block them.”
Easier Than Using A Credit Card?
Skelton alluded to the new purchasing process by stating that customers who currently use Bitcoin will “find this payment method even easier than paying by credit card. Our store’s checkout area has a Bitcoin section that shows the amount due in BTC and the address of a wallet created just for your transaction. As soon as we receive notification of the transaction, your purchase is complete. It typically processes in a few seconds, less time than it takes to fill in a credit card form.”
Getting your hands on the actual digital currency may be the toughest task involved in the process. Although there are several options when opening a new account, they do require a couple of steps and the step-by-step methods are not streamlined. These include entering Bonus Programs, finding a local Bitcoiner in your area or purchase the currency online through brokering services.
The open-source, 100% acceptance rate was the main motivation behind adding this payment option. “With Bitcoin we join a new digital economy that doesn’t leave anyone behind, essentially making financial transactions open source — something WordPress.com is behind 100%. We’re proud to support bloggers from all over the world by providing a Bitcoin option, Skelton offered.
What Do Customers Think?
Initial reaction from the WordPress community has been extremely positive. The first reply came in from Joshua Harvey, who said the move “is fantastic! Thanks for the visionary adoption of a cutting-edge technology, and a beautifully worded announcement.”
David Orban wrote, “This is a truly revolutionary move, which will pave the way to momentous worldwide changes. The educational aspect is the most important, with tens of millions of people learning about Bitcoin through WordPress. Once a large user base is in place, new generations of applications are going to come that are only possible thanks to Bitcoin.”
PayPal Still Accepted
Those who are presently using PayPal to cover the purchase cost of WordPress services need not worry. The option remains available, only now there is a virtual currency that can also be used by individuals and companies in locations where PayPal is blocked.
It’s unclear whether municipalities in countries where payment options are extremely limited will eventually use Bitcoin to take advantage of the new WordPress Cities packages… only time will tell.