In brief

  • Wikipedia added Bitcoin donations in July 2014.
  • Jimmy Wales explains that providing the payment option loses revenue.
  • The encylopedia continues to accept Bitcoin payments.

You would think that giving people new ways to pay you could only bring in more money, but you might be mistaken. According to Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, adding the ability to keep the “world's encyclopedia” alive with Bitcoin payments actually harmed its revenue.

Speaking in a panel discussion with nChain chief scientist Craig Wright, at Coingeek 2020, Wales said what really happened when it added Bitcoin.

Wikipedia kept Bitcoin, despite the negative effect. Image: Shutterstock.

“We did some A/B testing, where we throw up the testing thing, you can donate using credit card, PayPal, you can donate Bitcoin and it turned out that actual revenue declined when we did that. We brought in less total money, from all three sources,” Wales said.

Bitcoin “distracts people”

He figured that having an option to pay in Bitcoin was a distraction, taking people away from donating. “They click and they read about it and they think ‘but I don’t have any Bitcoin, how do I get Bitcoin’ and the next thing you know they go and just invest,” he added.

While Wales said that Wikipedia doesn’t have any ideological bent for cryptocurrency, he said there was no opposition if it worked effectively as a means of payment. But he argued that, after 11 years, it still isn’t ready.

“Until that barrier is crossed and we have consumer mechanisms that everybody can use and understand just as easily as they understand any other form of payment, then for a large site that’s looking to bring in a lot of money, we don’t want to distract people when they’re in the middle of checkout,” he said.

Perhaps Bitcoin’s just too revolutionary.