Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) has fired BitPay, a US-based bitcoin payment processing service, over non-service.
The independent media firm announced today that it is going to replace BitPay with its rival BTCPay, an open-source alternative to pay merchants online via bitcoin. HKFP projected BTCPay as better service, stating that it would allow donators to remain anonymous, a feature that was missing in a more-regulated BitPay.
“Help us eliminate processing fees or make a fully anonymous contribution by donating Bitcoin,” wrote HKFP.
— Tom Grundy (@tomgrundy) October 10, 2019
The Brawl That Started It All
HKFP’s announcement came a month after the agency complained about BitPay for blocking their bitcoin payments. Editor-in-chief Tom Grundy took to Twitter to explain how the US company was sitting atop their donations for almost three weeks. He added BitPay refused to process their financial transactions because it does not support IBAN, an internationally recognized, standardized method of identifying bank accounts during a money transaction.
“Never use BitPay, folks,” Grundy tweeted, adding the firm offers “truly the worst experience you can imagine – poor reputation, abysmal communication, horrible customer service, *very* high fees.”
“Almost any alternative will be better,” he said.
Grundy also threatened to sue BitPay’s co-founder & CEO Stephen Pair, stating that he is “ready to go to war.”
BitPay did not issue any official statement related to the controversy, which might have led Grundy & co to look for better, peer-to-peer alternatives.
Bitcoin to the Rescue
Nonprofit journalist groups have continuously relied on bitcoin for receiving donations. The cryptocurrency helps them bypass expensive – and often overly-regulated – banking systems. Even whistleblowers like Wikileaks, whose inbound contributions were once blocked by Visa and Mastercard, resorted to bitcoin. HKFP, which relentlessly offers non-biased reports out of Chinese and Hong Kong regions, therefore relies on the cryptocurrency for the very same reason.
The agency has so far received HK$15,000 worth of support in bitcoin. But, owing to the cryptocurrency’s underlying price volatility, it had opted to hire BitPay, which instantly converts bitcoin payments to fiat for a fee. Nevertheless, with BitPay choking HKFP’s payments, especially in times of ongoing protests in Hong Kong, the nonprofit thought it was better to either halt their bitcoin payment option or choose an alternative.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) October 10, 2019
The event put BitPay in a bad light, specifically after similar incidents showed the US firm blocking payments to specific firms. The most controversial decision in the recent memory was of preventing donations that could have contributed groups fighting against the Amazon rainforest fires.