Today, WordPress, an extremely popular blog hosting site and framework and the 22nd most accessed site in the world, has announced that they are going to be accepting Bitcoin as a method of payment. The press release reads: “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.” The main reason why WordPress has decided to start accepting Bitcoin is that a core part of WordPress’s mission has always been promoting freedom of information, and Paypal and credit card companies’ restrictive policies prevented users from buying WordPress’s services in exactly those countries where they were needed most. “PayPal alone blocks access from over 60 countries,” the release continues, “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 Kenya, Haiti, Cuba, or Iraq should have diminished access to the blogosphere because of payment issues they can’t control. Our goal is to enable people, not block them.”
Another argument which WordPress did not mention is anonymity. Many bloggers that operate in restrictive regimes do so using pseudonyms for their own protection, and traditional payment methods like credit cards and PayPal are unusable for those bloggers because they expose the payer’s physical identity. Bitcoin, on the other hand, offers its users a large degree of anonymity, giving bloggers, dissidents or simply people trying to live their lives in authoritarian regimes a much greater chance at evading persecution.
Aside from going ad-free and custom design, the paid services that WordPress offers include the ability to use WordPress on your own domain name, buy extra storage, customer service offers like a guided transfer of a blog from wordpress.com to self-hosting and even a wide variety of premium themes. However, it is important to note that not everything will be purchaseable for BTC immediately; domains and individually purchased themes (ie. bundles are fine) will not be accepting Bitcoin payments for a while. Nevertheless, WordPress promises to make Bitcoin available as a payment medium for all products “within two or three months.”
As a content-publishing platform, WordPress is already a very attractive choice for Bitcoin users. There are many e-commerce plugins for WordPress, and one of them offers support for BitPay. As a result of WordPress’s ease of use, Bitcoin Magazine itself uses WordPress as its content publishing back-end. For those who are not yet Bitcoin users, WordPress provides yet another reason to become one. WordPress is a rapidly growing platform, with over 100,000 new blogs created daily, and is showing no signs of slowing. And, more recently, WordPress is being used for more than just blogs. Thanks to its extendable plugin-based infrastructure, WordPress is being used for company websites, news sites, social networks and even in e-commerce applications. Being the 22nd most popular site in the world, WordPress is by far the largest website that had started accepting Bitcoin to date (although by financial size it is arguably beaten by Wuala‘s parent company LaCie), and its acceptance will hopefully provide confidence to many other large businesses that may be contemplating accepting Bitcoin but so far have not been willing to be the ones to make the first move. Now that WordPress has given the green light, potential adopters like Reddit, and perhaps many others that we have not even heard were considering accepting Bitcoin, may be soon to follow.
Vitalik Buterin is a co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine who has been involved in the Bitcoin community since 2011, and has contributed to Bitcoin both as a writer and the developer of a fork of bitcoinjs-lib, pybitcointools and multisig.info, as well as one of the developers behind Egora. Now, Vitalik's primary job is as the main developer of Ethereum, a project which intends to create a next-generation smart contract and decentralized application platform that allows people to create any kind of decentralized application on top of a blockchain that can be imagined.