WordPress Brings Bitcoin to the Blogging Masses

WordPress earns a Bitcoin merit badge. Photo: Ben Ostrowsky/Flickr.

Upgrading your WordPress.com blog no longer requires a credit card or PayPal account. Starting today you can raid your virtual piggy bank to pay for WordPress upgrades with the digital currency Bitcoin.

The move makes WordPress one of the largest, most reputable online services to accept the fledgling Bitcoin currency.

Bitcoin is an online currency that allows buyers and sellers to exchange money anonymously. According to a post on the WordPress blog, the appeal of Bitcoin for WordPress is that, unlike credit cards and PayPal, “Bitcoin has no central authority and no way to lock entire countries out of the network … merchants who accept Bitcoin payments can do business with anyone.”

The anonymous aspect has made Bitcoin a target for law enforcement agencies, but for WordPress it means that users living in any of the over 60 countries currently blocked by PayPal (and many credit card companies) now have a way to pay for WordPress upgrades and services.

While setting up a basic blog on WordPress.com is free, there are paid upgrades available for custom themes, custom domains or to remove ads from your site.

Bitcoin is in your WordPress. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey.

Automattic, WordPress’ parent company, accepts Bitcoin payments through Bitpay.com, which has now been integrated into the WordPress.com payment interface alongside the PayPal and traditional credit card options. WordPress is foregoing the Bitcoin “confirmations” process, which would help protect the company against fraud. Here’s an explanation from the FAQ:

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.

Note that while WordPress is accepting Bitcoin payments, it may not work for everything just yet. The option to pay with Bitcoin appears to be limited to upgrade bundles at the moment. Purchasing custom themes or domains by themselves is not currently possible due to what WordPress calls “technical complications.”

WordPress adopting Bitcoin is good news for users in countries like Haiti, Ethiopia, or Kenya, which are often blocked by traditional payment systems. It’s also good news for Bitcoin supporters who now have another, very large, every legitimate company on their side.