There’s a lot of information floating around out there about Bitcoin. From the latest news that the currency will soon be available at some U.S. ATMs to questions over security issues, one thing is certain: it gets people talking. And for good reason. It’s one of today’s hot tech topics, and adding it as a payment gateway on your WordPress store can be a terrific addition that makes life easier for everyone.
However, if you’re a newbie about all this Bitcoin info, chances are your head is spinning about the cryptocurrency. This article will clarify everything, including giving you some insight on the latest news, so you get it up and running on your site.
Look up “Bitcoin currency” and you’ll almost always see the name, “Satoshi Nakamato” associated with it. Who is Satoshi? Well, no one’s really sure. And if someone knows, they aren’t telling! See, one of the many mysterious aspects of the Bitcoin currency was that it was created by an individual in 2009 who used that as their nickname. But the bottom line is this: Bitcoin is currently the most popular of all cryptocurrencies, also referred to as digital or virtual currency.
The currency was put in place as a way to ensure secure and anonymous Internet transactions, with the bonus of the absence of a middle man. In other words, no other banks or financial institutions take their cut or get involved in any aspect of the transactions. Its beginnings stemmed from the desire to address the financial crisis and jumpstart the entire system, but soon became the powerful exchange system we’re familiar with today.
You might be wondering how they get into circulation. In a word: mining. It’s a process that involves a network of computers that takes care of the transactions, drawing on a combination of mathematical formulas and verification methods to make it all possible. The people involved in this process are miners. In an effort to control the supply and stabilize pricing, the year 2140 has been set as the date in which no more Bitcoins will be created.
Since 2009, Bitcoins have grown in popularity, despite some criticisms about it not having a defined legal status or true value. In a simplified way, it’s been likened to the hype of trading baseball cards. They can easily become hot must-haves, with communities involved in accumulating and trading them, yet they aren’t legally recognized as true currency. Still, Bitcoins are used by vendors as well as buyers, and advocates view its place in the world as one that is synonymous with Internet freedom. In a nutshell, getting involved with this open-source currency simply means that you create and manage transactions on your own computer (in this case, your WordPress page)
Introduction to BitPay Payment Gateway
Various third-party APIs are available for developers so they can add Bitcoin payment systems to their sites with ease. You don’t even have to store information on your server. It’s all possible due to JSON and boasting a user-friendly client interface based on JSON.
There’s more than one reason behind why people are getting on board with Bitcoin. For starters, it not only lets vendors display detailed payment instructions on their sites, but allows them to submit payment requests in over 150 currencies. Additionally, instead of waiting upwards of a week for transactions to clear, users across 32 countries get monies put into their bank accounts the very next day. The next day! Who doesn’t like the sound of that?
Furthermore, BitPay allows you to 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.
Step-by-Step Instructions to Set up a BitPay Account
Ready to set up an account on your WordPress page? Simply follow the instructions below. You’re on your way to getting a BitPay account and receiving your Bitcoin address:
- Visit http://bitpay.com in your web browser.
- Then click “Sign Up” from the top right.
- Enter your “Business Name,” as well as your “Contact Email.”
- Click “Start Accepting Bitcoin.”
- Put in your Name and Number then click “Continue.”
- Put in your Address, choose non-profit if you are, and click “Continue.”
- Enter your Industry, web site, and choose “custom” for the software option if no other option is relevant.
- Click “Review Application.”
- Read the terms and privacy then click “Submit Application.”
- Click the “Confirm Email” button in the email message that you get from BitPay.
- In the following email, click the “Get Started With BitPay” button.
- Finally, set your password.
Then next steps involves choosing a currency to accept payments in. Interestingly, you do not have to accept Bitcoin to accept Bitcoin. Say what!? Well, when people pay you in Bitcoin on your WordPress site, BitPay can convert the money to your chosen currency (or multiple currencies if you wish), so you never need to actually handle any Bitcoin. It might not be a bad idea to keep a small percentage of the transaction in Bitcoin though if you feel like “playing the market.” The value currently goes up and down like a yo-yo. Sell it when it’s high if you want to play that game.
If you do plan to “hold onto” any Bitcoin, even if just a small percentage of the transaction, you will need a Bitcoin address. To get one, you need to create a wallet. BitPay supports various wallets. We’ll walk through setting up a wallet with Blockchain.info in this tutorial.
Here are the steps for creating a BitPay compatible Bitcoin wallet:
- Visit the Blockchain.info web site in your web browser.
- Click “Start a New Wallet,” and fill in the details for your account.
- Verify your email address, then log in to the site.
- Copy your Bitcoin wallet address to paste into the BitPay interface (steps to follow).
At this point, it’s wise to look through some of the security options and set them up based on what you feel works best for you. This assumes that you have already have an understanding of the security concerns for Bitcoin. They’re worth reading up on, but we touched on a few aspects including issues with spam, earlier in this article. Blockchain lets you backup your wallet to your Dropbox account quite simply. Once setup, backups will be on auto-pilot. At the very least, I suggest doing that at a minimum to bolster security.
Assuming you intend to accept Bitcoin as your settlement currency, follow these steps:
- Add your Bitcoin wallet address in the provided box, and click on “Save and Continue.”
- Then click “Login to the Dashboard,” so we can go through the steps to get an API key.
Now, get your API Key which we will need for the WordPress Bitcoin Plugin setup procedure to follow.
- Click “My Account.”
- Click “API Access Keys” under “Security Center.”
- Click the “Add New API Key” button.
- Grab the API Key.
What it Does for You: Features of the WordPress Bitcoin Plugin
To gain the ability to accept Bitcoin through your WordPress web site using the BitPay API, let’s use the free WordPress Bitcoin plugin.
The WordPress Bitcoin plugin lets you easily accept bitcoins as a payment form in your online store. You can also use it to simply receive Bitcoin donations. The plugin offers the BitPay payment gateway functionality and features as mentioned above. What’s nice is that you need not 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 across varying currencies, and more.
Installing and Configuring the WordPress Bitcoin Plugin
Here are the steps to add the WordPress Bitcoin BitPay API plugin to your site:
- Click Plugins >> Add New from within your WordPress dashboard.
- Enter “WordPress Bitcoin” in the search box.
- Click “Install Now” and then “Activate Plugin.”
- Now go to Settings >> WP Bitcoin.
- Enable BitPay by checking the box.
- Add your BitPay API Key (retrieved in earlier steps).
- Click the “Update” button.
There are a couple of simple shortcodes supplied by the plugin for adding a Bitcoin “Buy Now” button to your posts and pages.
Here’s a basic template for the shortcode below:
[wpbc_buy_now item_name="Blue Widget" price="1.00" currency="USD"]
To customize it, modify the “item_name,” “price,” and “currency” parameters. This generates a yellow buy button that ties into the wallet setup through BitPay. The cost in bitcoins is determined automatically based on the price and currency entered. If you want to use a different image for the button, include an “image” parameter in the above shortcode.