The Bitcoin Economy Evolves: Bitpay Slashes Fees and is Adding 1,000 Merchants a Month

Jon Matonis knows more about Bitcoin than pretty much anyone on earth.  He wrote a fantastic article today highlighting the hyper-growth of Bitcoin processing company, Bitpay Inc.  Some of the statistics mentioned absolutely blew my mind, to the point that it’s almost hard to believe the level of growth happening here.  While the news that they are slashing fees for merchants is a big deal in itself for the evolution of the “Bitcoin Economy,” the fact they are adding 1,000 merchants a month on a base of 4,000 is absolutely incredible.  Oh, and the company has also recently integrated its payment platform with Amazon’s fulfillment services.  Great work Jon.  Excerpts below:

Bitcoin payment processor BitPay Inc. today announced its global processing volume for the month of March will exceed $2 million, a milestone for the company.

BitPay is also reducing its fees. The company will now process Bitcoin transactions and support settlement into 11 local currencies at a rate of 0.99% for all merchants. Previously, there were separate conversion fees on top of the 0.99% processing fee, so the company has essentially waived the currency conversion charges.

Accepting the digital Bitcoin currency as a payment method allows merchants to reach customers in over 60 countries not supported by PayPal.  It also allows merchants to reach various countries that are restricted by Visa and MasterCard for high fraud or lack of infrastructure. A consumer transacting in bitcoins needs only a mobile phone application or an Internet connection.

“We chose to celebrate this milestone by rewarding all merchants, large and small, with an across-the-board fee reduction, instead of offering tiered pricing which rewards only the largest merchants,” says BitPay CEO Tony Gallippi, in a press release. “We want our merchants to use this fee reduction to offer discounts and incentives to their customers for paying with Bitcoin.”

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Freedom of the Press Foundation Launches in the War on Censorship

A really interesting organization launched last night called the Freedom of the Press Foundation, with a slew of prominent individuals involved.  For one, there is Glenn Greenwald, one of my favorite journalists active today who used to work for Salon and now writes for the UK’s Guardian.  Also on the board is Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame; John Perry Barlow a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; Xeni Jardin of the Web site Boing Boing; and actor John Cusack.  The idea behind the organization is to support and fund unbiased journalism, particularly the kind that governments and intelligence organizations around the world may not like.  What really bothered all of the founders involved and served as a call to action was the way WikiLeaks was systematically cut off from the financial system.  The Huffington Post writes:

NEW YORK — Not long after WikiLeaks began publishing leaked diplomatic cables in November 2010, the anti-secrecy organization ran into trouble raising money.

Increased government scrutiny and criticism from lawmakers prompted several companies, including MasterCard, Visa and PayPal, to stop processing donations to the non-profit organization. WikiLeaks eventually suspended publication due to the “bank blockade.”

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