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After Eight Years, Wikipedia Says No to Cryptocurrency Donations

Wikimedia Foundation earlier accepted Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash through BitPay.

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), which hosts Wikipedia, will no longer accept donations in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash or Ethereum after a few community members led a debate about the positives and negatives of cryptocurrency.

The news came soon after the foundation held a poll where more than 70 per cent of respondents said they wanted to discontinue all cryptocurrency donations.

“The Wikimedia Foundation has decided to discontinue direct acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of donating… we are making this decision based on recent feedback from [volunteers and donor] communities,” the foundation said in a statement.

The foundation began accepting Bitcoin in 2014. Bitcoin was added as a donation option to help make contributing to the foundation “as simple and inclusive as possible.”

WMF first worked with Coinbase to accept Bitcoin donations before switching to BitPay to facilitate donations in additional cryptocurrencies.

However, Wikipedia’s exposure to crypto was barely significant prior to the ban. In 2021, the foundation received cryptocurrency from 347 donors only. These crypto donations made up just 0.08 per cent of the foundation’s revenue last year, said Wikimedia Foundation Community Relations Specialist Julia Brungs, who also added that the foundation has never “held cryptocurrency.”

“In the last financial year, the most used cryptocurrency was Bitcoin. We have never held cryptocurrency, and spot-convert donations daily into fiat currency (USD), which does not have a significant environmental impact,” Brungs said in a statement.

In January, when the debate over crypto donations began, software engineer and Wikipedia editor Molly White noted that only 400 community members participated in the discussion. Many of the accounts appeared to be “single-purpose accounts created just for the discussion” to influence the foundation against crypto, said a report.

According to the report, a major argument against cryptocurrency was “issues of environmental sustainability.”

Those in favour of crypto donations underlined a need for donations in false names in countries where Wikipedia might be illegal or censored. It was also argued that because Bitcoin is legal tender in El Salvador and the Central African Republic, the foundation should allow people to donate in their official currencies.

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