Datashell, a new web storage company, has announced that it will only accept payment in bitcoin, in response to a high demand from its users.
The Brighton-based company launched its web storage application this month, initially accepting both fiat currency and bitcoin. According to David Wright, a Datashell investor, 50 local businesses have already signed up as customers.
Wright said that two of Datashell's customers have paid in bitcoin; the rest used fiat currency. The company has since switched to accepting bitcoins only, but Wright added that Datashell might be forced to abandon its bitcoin-only payment policy if it can't get enough customers. He said:
"We're being a bit fundamentalist at the moment, but if we can't make a living doing this, we're going to default back to PayPal at some point."
Datashell is a backup and storage service with features similar to Dropbox. Its current price plans are aimed at small businesses, offering two annual subscription plans costing 0.10 BTC and 0.28 BTC. Datashell claims that both plans come with "unlimited" storage, although the cheaper plan will only back up data on five connected machines. The more expensive plan offers users unlimited connections.
Several redditors have expressed skepticism over Datashell's claim that it will back up unlimited amounts of data. For example, redditor 16rjg4 posted:
"So I can back up 30 versions of the entire internet on this service, for 0.3 BTC/year? Someone should tell archive.org!"
Datashell's terms and conditions (pdf) state that unlimited storage will be offered as long as the data is also present on the customer's own machine. Wright, the Datashell investor, said that the company will honour its claim to offer unlimited storage.
"We're confident that should someone turn up with 5TB to backup, we can cover it," Wright said.
Dropbox and bitcoin
In May, Dropbox users mounted an unsuccessful campaign to get the web storage startup to accept bitcoin payments. They rallied around a call to vote for bitcoin payments at Votebox, the company's official feature request channel. Users could cast votes for feature ideas they liked at Votebox. The request to buy storage with bitcoins eventually reached the top of the list.
However, in October Dropbox closed Votebox and moved feature requests to its user forums. The post explaining the closure said that Votebox had become "a wasteland of unanswered requests". Dropbox has not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Dropbox users have expressed their displeasure with the company's move to shut down its Votebox channel. The top comment on the associated reddit thread reads:
"F*** Dropbox. Not like they don't have plenty of competitors. Let's take our efforts, and business, elsewhere."
Reddit users have suggested switching from Dropbox to SpiderOak, which began trialling bitcoin payments in August. SpiderOak claims to offer users a level of data privacy known as 'zero-knowledge' which means that the data it stores is only readable by its customers.
Wright said Datashell's move to take bitcoin payments was partly a response to Dropbox users' demands to pay in the digital currency.
"People had been pushing us to take bitcoin, then we found out about Dropbox [taking down Votebox], which is just crazy," Wright commented. "We believe there is a market opportunity here," he added.
Few large web storage providers currently accept bitcoin payments. Mega, for example, began accepting bitcoins in February. Mega charges an annual fee between 0.1548 and 0.4643 BTC for storage from 500GB to 4TB.
Datashell's founders, Phil Townsend and Tim Fry, also run a tech support business called Coast Networks in Brighton. Notably, Coast Networks has also begun accepting bitcoin payments.