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Wikimedia Foundation shuts down BitPay account and stops crypto donations

The Wikimedia Foundation, which supports Wikipedia, will be closing its BitPay account and has announced that it will no longer accept cryptocurrency donations based on community feedback.

The decision to end crypto donations came after 232 members, or 71% of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) community, voted on a Jan. 10 proposal that addressed energy consumption, ease of use for sanctioned individuals, vulnerability to crypto -Fraud and more citing environmental sustainability as reasons to stop.

These issues raised concerns about how adopting crypto could damage the foundation’s reputation in the long run. Wikipedia is an open-source online encyclopedia and BitPay is a crypto payment service that it partners with.

In a May 1 update to WMF’s original proposal, Chief Advancement Officer Lisa Seitz-Gruwell stated:

“The Wikimedia Foundation has decided to stop accepting cryptocurrency directly as a fundraising tool […] In particular, we will be closing our BitPay account, which will make us unable to directly accept cryptocurrencies as a donation method.”

The proposal and subsequent discussion revealed that only about $130,000 in crypto donations were made in 2021, accounting for 0.08% of the foundation’s total revenue. As a result, the foundation is unlikely to suffer financially following its recent decision.

WMF member GorillaWarfare welcomed the move to ban, writing, “This is great news. Thank you for listening to the community.”

Conversely, since January, a vocal opponent of the ban whose ID is “95.91.212.65.01” wrote:

“That’s a shame. Especially the last argument put forward for this RfC turned out to be purely reactionary. Compare the media response of Ukraine accepting cryptocurrencies for donations just a few weeks later.”

Mozilla took a similar move to ban crypto donations for its Firefox browser in January, only to partially reverse the decision in April and only accept cryptos over Proof-of-Stake (PoS) networks like Polygon (MATIC) to accept.

Several Wikimedia Foundation constituents cited Mozilla’s situation as one to watch as it could impact how the foundation makes future decisions regarding crypto donations.

Related: “Ready, steady, NFT:” The Ukrainian government accepts NFT donations

Proponents of the ban do not appear to be threatened by the prospect of a spurned crypto community. Foundation member Dronebogus wrote in support of the ban:

“Wikimedia is the largest free web education collective on the planet, what will Joe Crypto do to ‘destroy’ us? Write a nasty comment? Are you telling his 650 Twitter followers to go to Everipedia?”

Everipedia is a competitive blockchain-based online encyclopedia. The Wikimedia Foundation has been accepting crypto donations since 2014.