BTCPay Server expands their ability to bring Bitcoin’s values to global e-commerce with Shopify integration
The BTCPay Server team, one of OKCoin’s Open-Source Developer Grant recipients, is building a free Bitcoin payment processor. They have recently implemented an integration with Shopify, a widely used e-commerce platform. This is the most recent step in their effort to build the foundations of a Bitcoin-powered e-commerce infrastructure.
BTCPay Server is the future of payment processing
BTCPay Server is a free, open-source, self-sovereign payment processor. It’s free because anyone can use it without paying processing fees, and open-source because the code is published on GitHub and can be audited by anyone. Lastly, the payment processor is self-sovereign because there is no third party between the sender and the recipient. It can either be self-hosted or hosted by a third-party.
Just like bitcoin could be the future of currency, BTCPay Server could be the future of payment processing. Before Nicolas Dorier started BTCPay Server, there already existed Bitcoin payment processors, such as BitPay. These other solutions are closed source and come with processing fees, which makes for an easier business model. So, why would one launch a competing solution that cannot make profit and distributes its work freely? And, why would its founder see it as a way to make the closed source competitors “obsolete”?
The short answer is: BTC Pay Server’s decentralized nature makes the fundamental flaws of centralized payment processing a thing of the past. It does so by allowing payment recipients such as online merchants to use a full node, a computer program that relays and validates (or rejects) Bitcoin transactions and blocks. This decentralized processing has at least three critical advantages compared to centralized solutions.
Censorship resistant payment processing
First of all, a key feature of using a full node is that it allows the merchant to transact without any potential third-party meddling. This is the censorship-resistance characteristic that makes a good part of Bitcoin’s value proposition. This is, for instance, the reason Wikileaks turned to bitcoin when Paypal and Visa blocked their donations all over the world. This is also why the Human Rights Foundation is now using BTCPay Server to receive donations: in some countries it is forbidden or potentially dangerous to fund the Foundation via traditional means. Even more recently, after having been deplatformed by their payment processor, the Nigerian Feminist Coalition started using BTCPay Server to raise money and fund their protests for police reform.
All centralized payment processing alternatives are subject to being targeted by political or legal pressures. This is not to say that centralized options are happy to censor – only that, having the technical option to do so, they might be forced to use it. Not so with BTCPay Server which, as some cypherpunks say of Bitcoin, “can’t be evil”. Not every payment recipient is likely to need censorship-resistance however.
Verifying the authenticity of payments
The average tee-shirt vendor is unlikely to be censored but does need to make sure the payments it receives are legitimate. This is similar to how most merchants want to be able to verify the authenticity of the local currency bills they receive. By having a trusted third-party run the payment processing however, merchants have to trust them not to be compromised. With BTCPay Server, trusted intermediaries are not required: merchants can, by using a full node, check directly if the coins received as payment are counterfeit. This brings e-commerce closer to Bitcoin’s famous motto: “Don’t trust, verify”.
Robustness of the peer-to-peer network
Another important reason for a merchant to use a full node is that full nodes are directly connected to Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer network. Peer-to-peer networks are much more reliable than centralized networks. If the Bitcoin peer-to-peer network was to go down it would imply that Bitcoin itself has stopped working. A centralized third party however is much more fragile and liable to downtime. Using a full node is therefore a net gain in payment reliability for merchants.
There are clearly good reasons for merchants to use BTCPay Server but Bitcoin open source solutions are often confined to particularly tech savvy users. This is what the BTCPay Server team is working to address, in order to truly make Bitcoin the foundation of a better ecommerce environment.
Bringing Bitcoin’s values to mainstream e-commerce
The BTCPay Server team is building a comprehensive payment processing solution. They have done so by creating a point-of-sale application, easy accounting features and last but not least smooth integrations with major e-commerce platforms. Until recently BTCPay Server’s supported integrations included WooCommerce, a WordPress e-commerce solution used by around 4 million businesses, Prestashop, used by 300,000 websites, Magento, and Drupal Commerce. But a big step was taken recently with the support of Shopify.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that currently serves one million businesses in 175 countries, for a total of more than $200 billion USD – close to bitcoin’s own market capitalization at the time of BTCPay Server’s integration. This important milestone makes BTCPay Server available through most of the biggest e-commerce platforms. It puts Bitcoin’s features of secure, reliable and censorship-resistant payments a few clicks away for a majority of online businesses – with no processing fees. Pavlenex and Andrew Camilieri from the BTCPay Server team sat down with OKCoin to discuss this development in more depth.
In order to achieve their goal of bringing Bitcoin’s values and strengths to payment processing, BTCPay Server has to remain open source and without fees. This means that its development has to be supported by the community and explains why OKCoin is proud to support BTC Pay Server.