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Chicago Sun-Times Becomes First Major US Newspaper to Accept Bitcoin

(@pete_rizzo_) | Published on April 3, 2014 at 17:26 BST

Following its successful test with bitcoin micropayments provider BitWall back in February, the Chicago Sun-Times has announced that it has partnered with San Francisco-based bitcoin startup Coinbase to accept bitcoin payments.

That test saw the newspaper receive more than 700 bitcoin donations over a 24-hour trial period in support of the non-profit Taproot foundation, which offers pro-bono service work to organisations tackling social problems.

The announcement makes the Sun-Times the first US newspaper to accept bitcoin as a payment option, a move that editor in chief Jim Kirk indicated was in line with its digital-first promotional strategy.

Said Kirk:

“Our goal is to keep the Sun-Times current and evolving with changing technology. Accepting bitcoin payments is one of many ways we are working to stay digitally focused.”

The company indicated that it chose to partner with Coinbase as it would offer subscribers the quickest way to begin paying for content with bitcoin.

Chicago bitcoin preview

Sun-Times subscribers can now pay for subscriptions with bitcoin here.

BitWall test

The announcement that the Sun-Times would partner with Coinbase is particularly surprising given that the major newspaper had partnered for a test with BitWall earlier this year.

It is not yet clear how the Sun-Times partnership with Coinbase would affect the companies potentially moving forward with a micropayments partnership. Notably, the Sun-Times appears to only be accepting bitcoin subscription payments through Coinbase.

In contrast, the BitWall partnership tested payments on individual articles.

Bitcoin's role in publishing

The Chicago Sun-Times is certainly not unique in accepting bitcoin, as many bitcoin blogs and news sites accept formal donations. Earlier this year, it was reported that Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad would also begin experimenting with bitcoin micropayments.

Further, if bitcoin is able to reach its goal of becoming a reliable micropayments service, content publishers will be among those that benefit the most, meaning the Sun-Times is likely to be far from the last major newspaper to implement bitcoin payments.

However, some developers have raised questions about bitcoin's ability to handle such transactions.

For more on this ongoing debate, read our full report here.

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