The commercial service site that hosts WordPress installations for bloggers has recently announced that they will begin accepting Bitcoin as payment for services and upgrades. For most people, a free blog on WordPress.com is sufficient, but to receive access to many plugins, the ability to use fancy templates, and other elements that make blogging less of a chore, it costs money.
And now it can cost bitcoins for those so inclined.
In a blog post on the matter, WordPress.com’s Andy Skelton explained how the site would start accepting Bitcoin—which appears to be an easy-to-use interface—and why.
One of the reasons? Paypal is too restrictive for many of their customers.
“PayPal alone blocks access from over 60 countries, and many credit card companies have similar restrictions,” Skelton writes. “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.”
I’ve noted before that Paypal’s failure to reach out to more consumers and its recalcitrance with certain business types would make the niche it will not enter a perfect ground for Bitcoin to take over—albeit that was about major cloud storage cyberlockers. The ability to use bitcoins without being easily tracked means that it’s superior to Paypal for people in oppressive or draconian regimes, it also means it’s useful in countries where there’s little in the way of central banking infrastructure (we’ve seen this with discussions about Africa.)
By enabling BTC as a transaction currency, WordPress.com will not just open themselves to more customers, but it will also give yet another anchor point for Bitcoin to increase its popularity and stability in the market. WordPress.com is no small fry amidst Internet services, it’s a well known blogging platform, and is directly connected to the most popular blogging software ever produced to date.
From the looks of it, trading Bitcoin for upgrades on WordPress.com will be just as easy (or easier) than using Paypal. It’s an additional tab on the payment dashboard, includes a “Click to Pay” button and a QR code for use in mobile. According to the article, it produces a unique wallet address specifically for the transaction, waits for the BTC transfer, and then once that’s complete the upgrade or service is activated.
The WordPress hosting site will be partnering with payment processing service Bitpay.com as a way to rapidly exchange BTC to USD from customers to WordPress.com. This certainly feels like the ideal way to do the transaction, it also means that invoices last only a small period of time–that way WordPress.com always gets about the right amount of money asked for (given shifts in the Bitcoin exchange rates.)
WordPress.com also made sure to emphasize that they will honor their refund policy also with Bitcoin transactions—which, the post mentions is “famous for unreversable transactions.”
Already numerous commenta on the blog post show that there’s a notable segment of WordPress.com users looking forward to this capability. No doubt, this will mean an influx of cash for the service as well as an increase in their own ability to reach customers in credit-restricted regions of the world. Any business that depends on releasing a free product with freemium services benefits gigantically from opening themselves up to a larger marketplace.
The end result: very good for WordPress.com and a brilliant addition for Bitcoin.