Open-source online encyclopedia Wikipedia is now accepting bitcoin through a new partnership with Coinbase.
The Wikimedia Foundation, which owns and curates Wikipedia, announced on its official blog that it is now accepting donations in the digital currency.
The organization cited grassroots community support for the integration, saying that demand for bitcoin support led to discussions on the leadership level.
The announcement is notable given the Foundation’s past apprehension toward the idea of accepting bitcoin. In March, the organization announced that it was beginning to discuss bitcoin donations, but co-founder Jimmy Wales later commented that Wikimedia was taking a “cautious” approach.
In the blog post, Wikimedia chief revenue officer Lisa Gruwell said that the discussion process was in-depth, but with more clarification available on the legal status of digital currency, Wikimedia was able to move forward.
“Currently, we accept 13 different payment methods enabling donations from nearly every country in the world, and today, we’re adding one more: bitcoin.”
In a separate email sent to Wikipedia supporters, the organization said that the goal is to offer "flexible" payment options to those who donate to keep the online encyclopedia running. With bitcoin, the Foundation declared, Wikipedia supporters can enjoy greater versatility in their donation options.
One more way to give
The reason for the prior apprehension, the organization said, was the operational and legal complexity and uncertainties surrounding bitcoin.
But the Foundation leadership cited its partnership with Coinbase as a method for sidestepping some of the logistical needs that come with accepting bitcoin, which includes the occasional need to exchange bitcoin for fiat currency.
According to the Wikimedia blog post:
"Using Coinbase, a bitcoin exchange, we’re able to immediately convert bitcoin to U.S. dollars, requiring minimal technical implementation on our end. Since we now also have guidance on how to account for bitcoin, there is a clear understanding of how to legally manage it."
Speaking with CoinDesk, Coinbase director of business development Adam White remarked that the Foundation took the slow and steady approach to make sure that it maintained full legal compliance. But once those concerns were addressed, "that gave wikipedia enough confidence to say let's move forward with this and choose a solution", he said.
Among the benefits discussed includes the option for small donations, which is attractive for a platform like Wikipedia that runs on the support of its global readership.
Notably, White told CoinDesk that the Wikipedia integration marks the largest non-profit to accept the digital currency to date.
With the integration now active, all users have to do is go to Wikipedia’s donation page and opt to pay in bitcoin. Like with any option, users can choose to make either one-time or recurring donations to the free encyclopedia.