The concept of digital currency earned some serious credit late last week when the popular, maleable and oh-so-functional website and blogging platform Wordpress announced it will start employing Bitcoin as a method of payment for its upgrades.
When the world's leading web publisher talks, people listen.
Bitcoin is an alternative international currency, digital only, and administered through a decentralized peer-to-peer network which enables users to make and receive payments without the use of centralized banking services. With a total market cap which equals $100 million U.S. dollars, Bitcoin claims over 1,000 merchants now use the digital currency, including Wordpress.
"With Bitcoin we join a new digital economy that doesn’t leave anyone behind, essentially making financial transactions open source — something WordPress.com is behind 100%," writes Andy Skelton in the Wordpress.com blog. "We’re proud to support bloggers from all over the world by providing a Bitcoin option.
"PayPal alone blocks access from over 60 countries, and many credit card companies have similar restrictions. Some are blocked for political reasons, some because of higher fraud rates, and some for other financial reasons. Whatever the reason, we don’t think an individual blogger from Haiti, Ethiopia, or Kenya should have diminished access to the blogosphere because of payment issues they can’t control. Our goal is to enable people, not block them."
Unlike traditional currency issued by a government or its central bank, the Bitcoin network is programmed to increase the digital money supply until the total number of Bitcoins issued reaches 21 million. As of October, just over 10 million Bitcoins have been issued.
As one might imagine, the system is not with its detractors.
Forbes wrote in July the system is "still too nascent and small for robust use in global trade settlement. Liquidity and depth would have to increase significantly to accommodate requests without severe price disruption."
Almost a year ago, Wired Magazine published a piece about "the rise and fall of Bitcoin," suggesting its creation is shrouded in mystery and, by implication, perhaps...well...a "bit" sketchy. The system's association with Wikilinks hasn't helped its image.
But all that matters little to Wordpress.
Needless to say, this is a trend to which it is...well...worth...well...paying serious attention.