As I’ve been both cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiast, I wanted to try and enable Bitcoin payments on my hobby retro gaming shop Retrocket. If you are planning to add Bitcoin payments to your WooCommerce webshop arsenal, this is my short why, what and how blog about the excercise.

Why Bitcoin?

The more payment options for the customer the better. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have had lots of buzz lately, and enabling Bitcoin payments may have trend value in itself for the sake of giving your shop that modern touch.

In real life – as you might have already guessed – there aren’t many people paying with Bitcoin. Today, most consider Bitcoin a commodity like gold, and not a real currency used for everyday payments. But why not give the option, as the times may change one day? The downside is of course the volatility; if Bitcoin is worth 5500 EUR today, tomorrow it may be 500, zero or 8000. Anything goes.

Selecting provider and plugin

Bitcoin payments are implemented as Woocommerce payment gateway plugins, just like the one you use for PayPal payments. In the Bitcoin / cryptocurrency world you have multiple service providers to choose from. Each of them have their own plugin, and terms of service (==fees & other practices). So your selection becomes a combination of the plugin and the service provider. These are inseparable.

Some feel plugin features like multiple cryptocurrency support and the visuals are the most important thing, some look for the lowest transaction fees. And some try to find the plugin & provider that most likely exists even a year from now. There’s no right or wrong answers, it’s just your taste.

The plugins

The plugins can be found by searching the WordPress Plugin repository.

The plugins may or may not support multiple cryptocurrencies and other payment methods, some have better configuration screens & installation instructions. Some look a bit nicer, some have better guidance for the customer. Some are more popular on the WP plugin repository (number of installs), some are better compatible with European (or other geo) banking system. When you select the plugin, you also select the service provider.

There is at least one free plugin with no service provider involved. This means that nobody gets paid for maintaining the plugin. My advice is to avoid these at all cost. Checked today, the plugin was last updated a year ago. At current WP and WooCommerce development pace this is an eternity.

The service providers

As mentioned earlier, by selecting the plugin you also select the service provider – these are inseparable. The service providers seemed to differ at least in the following:

  • Fee % from each bitcoin payment. Usually less than 2%. Just for comparison, PayPal charges you 2,9% + 0,30 USD.
  • Minimum bitcoin transfer limit from the provider to your bitcoin account. Service provider may keep your bitcoins until you manually go and transfer them to your own bitcoin account. There may be a minimum bitcoin limit for this transfer, and the transfer may have a fee on itself.
  • Fee for cashing bitcoin into a real currency – EUR, USD, etc.
  • Other terms like service levels and their monthly fees, services offered for individuals, or services offered for only registered companies.

Some service providers document the costs better than others. I recommend you do read the terms to avoid unpleasant surprises. After you have reached the peace of mind and selected the plugin/service provider, the rest is usually the easy part.

How to take in use?

I’ll assume you already have a bitcoin wallet, and know how to use it. If not, this is a good place to start. You need the wallet to get the bitcoin account (quite similar to bank account), which receives the payments.

WooCommerce payment gateway installation usually goes like this:

  • Download and install the plugin from the WP plugin repository.
  • If you already haven’t done so, register on the service provider website. You’ll get the required keys for the plugin.
  • Configure the keys into the plugin you just installed.
  • Test. Buy something from your shop with Bitcoin. See how the process goes, and see what the payment looks like on the service provider website.
  • You’re ready for Bitcoin payments, and you know how the process goes.

Usually takes less than an hour to get everything up and running.

My choices

I chose Coingate as my plugin / service provider, but as I said – this is matter of taste and needs. My rationale was:

  • Nice looking, and customer guiding plugin.
  • Support for Bitcoin and over 50 altcoins.
  • European vendor, with support for european SEPA money trasfers, in case I needed to cash in.
  • Very reasonable 1% transaction fee. No registration, monthly or support fees.
  • Optionally, when somebody pays with Bitcoin, I receive EUR directly.
  • I wanted just the crypto payment gateway, and nothing else like credit card payments forcefully included.

Need help?

The compulsory advertisement: If you feel you need help on evaluating and setting up Bitcoin payments for your WooCommerce webshop, my Wildcode Ltd may be of help. Been there, done that, and gladly help you too.