Automattic on Thursday announced you can now buy WordPress.com upgrades with Bitcoins, as part of the company’s mission of “making publishing democratic.” To justify the additional payment method, the company noted that PayPal alone blocks access from over 60 countries, and many credit card companies have similar restrictions, for political reasons, financial reasons, and/or due to higher fraud rates.
“Whatever the reason, we don’t think an individual blogger from Kenya, Haiti, Cuba, or Iraq should have diminished access to the blogosphere because of payment issues they can’t control,” Automattic says. “Our goal is to enable people, not block them.”
As the company points out, everyone can create a blog for free, but not everyone can pay for additional features, until now. In addition to credit cards and PayPal, WordPress.com has added a Bitcoin payment option (its payment processing partner is BitPay.com):
If you’re already using Bitcoin, Automattic says you’ll find this payment method even easier than paying by credit card. You’ll see the amount due in BTC and the address of a wallet created just for your transaction. As soon as the company receives notification of the transaction, your purchase is complete. The total processing time is just “a few seconds,” or less time than it takes to fill in a credit card form.
For those who don’t know, Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency, currently the most-widely used alternative to common forms of money. Because it has no central issuer, unlike credit cards and PayPal, it has no single authority and thus no way to lock out entire countries out of the network. For more information, Automattic points those interested to We Use Coins.
This announcement is a huge win for WordPress.com users, but it’s an even bigger deal for Bitcoin, which has had a troubled start but is slowly gaining credibility and stability. Validation from a service as huge as WordPress.com is a big deal.
This move likely took a lot of deliberation from Automattic, but the company looks to be completely behind the decision now. “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%,” Automattic concludes. “We’re proud to support bloggers from all over the world by providing a Bitcoin option.”
These three questions and answers are also worth noting from the announcement:
How many times is the transaction confirmed before I get my upgrade?
Zero! We could wait for the first confirmation (typically 5-10 minutes) but we prefer to make the customer experience as smooth as possible. Making you wait for confirmations would virtually eliminate our risk but we’re confident that with digital products like ours the risk is already acceptably low.
Sometimes Bitcoin isn’t an option in your store. What gives?
Affected products include domains and themes when not purchased in bundles, and any purchases made while you have credits already on account. We’re sorry! There are some technical complications. We decided to go now with what we have because, as we said at the beginning, this launch is about enabling people. Bitcoin should be accepted for all purchases within two or three months.
What about refunds?
Bitcoin is famous for its irreversible transactions but we will still honor our refund policy. If a refund is granted on a purchase made with BTC we will work with BitPay to issue a refund in BTC.
Image Credit: Zach Copley