July 30, 2014; New York Times, “DealBook”
The best known of the cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, is making deeper inroads into respectable society, including the nonprofit sector. On Wednesday, the Wikimedia Foundation, the entity behind Wikipedia, said that it would add the digital currency to its extensive list of payment methods.
Lisa Gruwell, the foundation’s chief revenue officer, said in a blog post that “members of our community have asked the Foundation to start accepting Bitcoin. These requests, coupled with recent guidance from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, encouraged the Foundation to once again review our capacity to accept Bitcoin.”
It’s not as though Wikipedia is getting into the Bitcoin business, however; they won’t be holding any Bitcoins themselves. To facilitate transactions, Wikimedia has chosen to work with Coinbase, a third-party payment processor that converts customers’ Bitcoins instantly into dollars to protect their donations from fluctuations in the currency’s value. As a sign of Coinbase’s enthusiasm for the project, and indeed the notion of charitable giving through Bitcoin generally, the processor has agreed to waive its transaction fees for any registered 501(c) nonprofit using the service. As said on its blog:
“Charitable giving is emerging as a major consumer use case for Bitcoin. Bitcoin enables donors to give 100% of their funds to causes