The Hong Kong Free Press, a media and news outfit based out of Hong Kong, has changed its payment processor. In an official tweet published earlier today, October 11, 2019, the media outlet announced that it would be replacing popular cryptocurrency payment gateway BitPay with its competitor BTCPay, an open-source platform for receiving bitcoin payments.
A Troubled Relationship
The Hong Kong Free Press is known for being particularly unbiased in its reporting. In a period where Hong Kong is mired in anti-government protests and political upheaval, many have turned to the publication as a means of getting unfettered, uncensored posts about events in Hong Kong.
The nonprofit depends on donations to run its operations, which was why it pitched its tent with BitPay, so it could receive bitcoin from donors easily. However, things became tense barely a month into this new partnership. At the time, Tom Grundy, the founder and editor-in-chief of the publication, took to Twitter to thank everyone who has donated HK$14,817 ($1,888 USD) to their cause. He followed that appreciation up with an announcement that the news agency will be temporarily suspending bitcoin payments due to BitPay's refusal to send the funds to them.
Grundy complained that BitPay had been sitting on the funds for almost a month, while adding that the payment processor had refused to process their transactions because Hong Kong banks don’t support IBAN, an international standard for identifying bank accounts while effecting financial transactions.
“Almost any alternative will be better,” he said.
BitPay then responded on Twitter, saying that it was working on a solution:
Ultimately, the press seems to have found an alternative in BTCPay. In the recent tweet, the news outlet noted that “Bitcoin donations via BTCPay help HKFP to eliminate processing fees,” adding that it will allow donors to remain anonymous, a feature which, for the more regulated BitPay, didn’t exist.
BTCPay: The Quiet Giant
BTCPay was launched in 2017 as a decentralized alternative to BitPay for receiving bitcoin payments. Two years since its launch, it has grown to include a community of fanatical users and open-source developers.
“BTCPay was created when BitPay was trying to force all their merchants to use another altcoin instead of Bitcoin. The priority for BTCPay was to make sure that all software written to work on BitPay will work on BTCPay with minimal (or no) change,” Nicolas Dorier told Bitcoin Magazine last year.
With its open-source structure, merchants have access to more payment options than on BitPay. Besides Bitcoin, community developers have also added support for altcoins like Litecoin, Dash and Monero.