If you are new to Bitcoin but are considering accepting this cryptocurrency in your online store, this article will explain what it’s all about, provide some of the latest news in the world of Bitcoin, and guide you through the process of creating a Bitcoin payment gateway on your WordPress site.
Introduction to Bitcoin
Bitcoin currency was created by an anonymous person under the nickname of Satoshi Nakamato in 2009. At the moment it is the most popular cryptocurrency. A cryptocurrency is defined as a digital currency that allows for secure and anonymous peer-to-peer financial transactions over the Internet. There are no middle men in Bitcoin transactions, meaning that no states, banks or other financial institutions are involved in the process.
Bitcoins are slowly released into circulation through a process called mining. A network of powerful computers handles all transactions, using their combined processing power to solve mathematical problems, which serve as a verification method for these financial transactions. People participating in the process are referred to as miners. By 2140, 21 million bitcoins will be released into circulation and no further currency will be created. The controlled supply is meant to ensure stable prices and resistance to inflation.
Bitcoins have gained a lot of popularity since their implementation, and the cryptocurrency is now widely used by both vendors and buyers. It is particularly popular among the proponents of the free market as well as of the overall Internet freedom.
Recent Bitcoin News
One of the main purposes behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that followed in its footsteps was to decentralize money. Paradoxically, several countries have recently stated their plans to regulate Bitcoin. Benjamin Lawsky, the financial services superintendent of New York State, said this week that he will start issuing BitLicenses to businesses dealing with bitcoins. He said one of the main reasons for this was to prevent the cryptocurrency from being used for money laundering.
Such regulation would also mean that exchanges would have to warn customers that transactions in bitcoins are irreversible, the value of the virtual currency is volatile, and that digital wallet keys should be stored securely. Canada made a similar move, announcing plans for new anti-terrorist-financing and anti-money-laundering laws to prevent abuse of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Bitcoin has remained a popular topic in the media for the last few years, and this popularity was largely to blame for a lot of sudden surges in its value. A lot of merchants have been noticing this media attention as well. Many companies started accepting bitcoins because it markets their image as early adopters and expands their reach among tech-savvy consumers. In November 2013 alone, the amount of vendors accepting bitcoins increased by 81%.
Introduction to BitPay Payment Gateway
Various third-party APIs are available for developers to easily add Bitcoin payment systems to sites without having to store the virtual currency on one’s server. Based on JSON and boasting a user-friendly client interface, BitPay is among the most popular options out there. It allows vendors to display payment instructions on their sites, to submit payment requests in more than 150 currencies, and get next-day settlements into bank accounts in 32 countries. With BitPay, you can embed an invoice on your website, so the customer doesn’t have to leave the page during checkout. The API supports such payment methods as click-to-pay URI, scan-to-pay QR code, and copy and paste payment form.
How to Setup an Account at BitPay
Follow the instruction below to setup a BitPay account and get your Bitcoin address:
- Go to http://bitpay.com and click Sign Up (top right).
- Enter your Business Name (or Charity Name) and Contact Email.
- Click Start Accepting Bitcoin.
- Put in your First and Last Name, and Phone Number.
- Click Continue.
- Put in your Address, select whether you are a non-profit or not, then click Continue.
- Enter in your Industry, Web Site Address, and choose the software you plan to use (perhaps just choose Custom).
- Click Review Application.
- Make sure everything is correct. You can click “edit” next to the different sections if need be.
- Read the “terms” and “privacy” and check the box if you accept them.
- Click Submit Application.
- You will receive an email from BitPay. Click the Confirm Email button in that message.
- Then click the Get Started With BitPay button in the next email that arrives.
- Create a secure password, enter it in both boxes, and click the Set Password button.
The next step involves choosing the currency that you want to receive payments in. You can modify it later to span multiple currencies if you like. If you choose a standard currency you will need to add some banking details. If you choose Bitcoin you will need to insert your Bitcoin address.
If you haven’t created a wallet yet, the steps are below. There are several companies with varying features, etc. Just be sure that you choose a wallet that is compatible with BitPay.
In the following steps I will be walking through setting one up with Blockchain.info.
Just to be clear, you don’t have to collect Bitcoin to accept it on your site, because you can have it auto-converted into other currencies, and auto-deposited into your bank account(s). In fact, with BitPay you can receive money in multiple currencies from the same transaction. So for example, you can keep 10% in Bitcoin, and covert 80% into U.S. dollars, and the rest in Canadian if you wanted to!
At any rate, here are the steps for setting up a Bitcoin wallet with Blockchain.
- Go to the Blockchain.info web site: https://blockchain.info/wallet
- Click the Start a New Wallet button.
- Put in your email address, a secure password (x2), the CAPTCHA, and click Continue.
- You will need to verify your email address, login to the site, and copy out your Bitcoin wallet address.
At this stage it’s a good idea to look through some of the security options and set which ones that you feel are necessary. This assumes that you have an understanding of the security concerns for Bitcoin. They’re worth reading up on. Blockchain lets you backup your wallet to your Dropbox account very easily. Once setup, backups will happen automatically. Maybe do that at a minimum.
Let’s get back into setting up the BitPay account. This next steps assumes that you chose Bitcoin as the main Settlement currency.
- Past in your Bitcoin wallet address and click on Save and Continue.
- Click Login to the Dashboard.
Now, you can get an API key which you will need for configuring the plugin. Here are the steps to follow:
- Click My Account.
- Under Security Center, click API Access Keys.
- Click the +Add New API Key button.
- Optionally in the Memo field you can specify where the key will be used, or anything else that you want about it. Click Save Changes if so.
- Copy your key for use in the plugin in the steps to follow. Keep it safe!
Features of the WordPress Bitcoin Plugin
To gain the ability to accept Bitcoin through your WordPress web site using the BitPay API, you can use our free WordPress Bitcoin plugin.
The WordPress Bitcoin plugin allows you to easily accept bitcoins as a payment form in your online store or even just receive donations on your site in bitcoins. The plugin offers the BitPay payment gateway functionality described above with all of the features that come with it. You don’t have to be a developer to use it; all you need to do is install the plugin though your WordPress dashboard. You can then use your dashboard to easily track Bitcoin orders, send automatic email confirmations for accepted payments, have your store’s currency automatically converted into bitcoins and more.
How to Install and Configure the WordPress Bitcoin Plugin
Follow the steps below to add the plugin to your site:
- Go to the Plugins menu on your WordPress dashboard and click Add New.
- In the search bar, enter “WordPress Bitcoin.”
- Click Install Now and then Activate Plugin.
- Now go to Settings >> WP Bitcoin.
- Enable BitPay by checking the box.
- Paste in your BitPay API Key.
- Modify other values as needed and click the Update button.
WordPress Bitcoin uses a couple of simple shortcodes for adding a Bitcoin Buy Now button to your pages.
Here’s a basic template for the shortcode below:
[wpbc_buy_now item_name="test product" price="5.00" currency="USD"]
You can modify the “item_name”, “price”, and “currency” parameters. This will create an attractive yellow button allowing people to buy your product using Bitcoin. The value that you set for your price and currency will be converted to the current Bitcoin market value. You can override the yellow Buy Now button by adding an “image” parameter with the full image path as the value.
How to Spread the Word that Your Business Accepts Bitcoins
Announcing to the world that your store now accepts bitcoins is a great marketing strategy that many businesses have been taking advantage of. Cryptocurrencies are constantly in the news, and you shouldn’t miss out on all that free advertising. Here are some ideas for you, but think outside the box for more:
- Create a page on your site that explains what Bitcoin is all about to those of your customers who aren’t familiar with virtual currencies yet. You might want to also include simple instructions on how one can create a Bitcoin wallet.
- Create a press release announcing that you are now accepting bitcoins and send it to various financial publications, blogs that write about virtual currency and your local media.
- Add your store to various directories of merchants that accept bitcoins.
- Get a “Bitcoin Accepted Here” button and place it in a visible place on your site. You can choose one of several promotional signs available here https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Promotional_graphics, or have your own button designed around the Bitcoin logo to better match the look of your online storefront.