Opened 6 years ago

Closed 6 years ago

Last modified 6 years ago

#10129 closed enhancement (implemented)

accept bitcoins

Reported by: phobos Owned by: phobos
Priority: Medium Milestone:
Component: Webpages/Website Version:
Severity: Keywords: SponsorZ
Cc: wseltzer, intrigeri@… Actual Points:
Parent ID: Points:
Reviewer: Sponsor:

Description

We keep receiving requests to accept bitcoins directly, rather than pointing potential bitcoin donors at various non-tor, but tor-related organizations.

Child Tickets

Change History (36)

comment:1 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

The first step to this is to figure out how to handle bitcoins. Other orgs handle them as equities and simply convert them to USD on donation. This may work if we can find a relevant audit standard and GAAP advice for handling bitcoin donations.

comment:2 Changed 6 years ago by arma

Sounds great to me.

Perhaps there are organizations that accept bitcoin on your behalf and then give you USD for them? And perhaps those orgs don't charge too much overhead to non-profits? And, most importantly, perhaps those orgs don't have horrible additional rules that make them impossible to work with while maintaining our autonomy?

comment:3 Changed 6 years ago by nickm

Or maybe we could just convert to USD at the end of the month at every month.

The EFF now accepts bitcoins, from what I understand. Let's ask them how?

comment:4 Changed 6 years ago by nickm

(FWIW, I agree we should accept bitcoins.)

comment:5 in reply to:  3 ; Changed 6 years ago by nickm

Cc: wseltzer added

Replying to nickm:

Or maybe we could just convert to USD at the end of the month at every month.

The EFF now accepts bitcoins, from what I understand. Let's ask them how?

I just realized that I have failed to ascend the "you should"->"we should"->"I should" hierarchy. Andrew, Roger, Wendy: if one of you tells me whom to contact at the EFF, I volunteer to ask them about this and find out what they say.

comment:6 Changed 6 years ago by mo

https://www.coinbase.com/ is one of the platforms who handle BTC. They can immediately convert BTC to $USD, and wire the money, so I don't see much difference to, say, Paypal. The first $1m is free of fees.

comment:7 in reply to:  5 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

Replying to nickm:

I just realized that I have failed to ascend the "you should"->"we should"->"I should" hierarchy. Andrew, Roger, Wendy: if one of you tells me whom to contact at the EFF, I volunteer to ask them about this and find out what they say.

I've had a few conversations with various people at the EFF. We know their legal stance and risks of bitcoin acceptance. I talked to the FSF as well.

comment:8 in reply to:  6 ; Changed 6 years ago by phobos

Replying to mo:

https://www.coinbase.com/ is one of the platforms who handle BTC. They can immediately convert BTC to $USD, and wire the money, so I don't see much difference to, say, Paypal. The first $1m is free of fees.

Right. However, Coinbase seems highly sketchy, regardless of their investor backing. Bitpay seems much more straight-forward and less risky. I've had phone conversations with both organizations.

comment:9 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

Let's look at the blockchain to see how well the various orgs have done in taking bitcoins:

  1. Torservers, https://blockchain.info/address/17dHghQZw1hv7uAY5RLnGySQ8fUyazkpwu
  2. NoiseTor, https://blockchain.info/address/1PFH8NPWu2g6TdRQsirTPGpbnPBhkzQMvM
  3. Tails, https://blockchain.info/address/1BvBMSEYstWetqTFn5Au4m4GFg7xJaNVN2
  4. EFF, hidden behind a registration form
  5. FSF, https://blockchain.info/address/1PC9aZC4hNX2rmmrt7uHTfYAS3hRbph4UN

Does our direct acceptance of bitcoin take away from orgs 1, 2, or 3?

Last edited 6 years ago by phobos (previous) (diff)

comment:10 in reply to:  3 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

Replying to nickm:

Or maybe we could just convert to USD at the end of the month at every month.

The EFF now accepts bitcoins, from what I understand. Let's ask them how?

They use bitpay and convert from btc to usd at the time of donation. This is the only way I see us accepting btc.

comment:11 Changed 6 years ago by aagbsn

I agree with Andrew that probably the sane way to accept BTC is to convert at donation time. I don't think anyone wants managing/trading BTC to detract from making more Tor.

I spoke to Nick; one suggestion I made was that we ask an existing org (EFF, for example) if they would proxy the donations. [edit] If EFF use bitpay, the above makes no sense.

If we choose to use a payment processor, it should not block access via Tor.

I volunteer to work on https://www.torproject.org/donate/donate.html.en

We should note that BTC are not anonymous, but some use scenarios might increase your privacy when using BTC.

Last edited 6 years ago by aagbsn (previous) (diff)

comment:12 in reply to:  9 Changed 6 years ago by mo

Replying to phobos:

Let's look at the blockchain to see how well the various orgs have done in taking bitcoins:

Looking at one address is not giving you a good picture. Our wallet has seen 16k BTC over time. I regularly change the semi-static BTC address on the donate page. I post different addresses to Bitcoin forum etc.

What you usally want is one address per transaction. This is what bitpay/coinbase can do for you.

comment:13 in reply to:  8 ; Changed 6 years ago by mo

Replying to phobos:

Right. However, Coinbase seems highly sketchy, regardless of their investor backing. Bitpay seems much more straight-forward and less risky. I've had phone conversations with both organizations.

If I had called Tor 10 years ago, it surely would have been equally "highly sketchy". Bitpay is expensive. The $30/month account (regardless of 'income'!) only allows for USD$10k donations per month. They don't even explain what the limits of the Starter accounts are, where they "only" take a cut of every transaction and no fixed monthly fee.

I would not even care too much if a particular payment processor survives or not. Who cares? I transfer money out of each processor ASAP, and if they die, they die. Happened to Liberty Reserve, and we lost $10. Uh huh.

Last edited 6 years ago by mo (previous) (diff)

comment:14 in reply to:  13 ; Changed 6 years ago by phobos

Replying to mo:

If I had called Tor 10 years ago, it surely would have been equally "highly sketchy". Bitpay is expensive. The $30/month account (regardless of 'income'!) only allows for USD$10k donations per month. They don't even explain what the limits of the Starter accounts are, where they "only" take a cut of every transaction and no fixed monthly fee.

Bitpay said to me on the phone it was free of fees and without limits for charities. We're not looking to buy btc, just sell at spot rates.

The entire workflow is donation in btc -> processor -> USD -> USD in tor's bank account. We're not going to hold any btc or usd in any processor.

Also, if you called Tor 10 years ago, no one would answer because no one used the phone.

The other difference is bitpay wanted to validate the organization. Coinbase wanted to validate me, with copies of my social security card, passport, and a utility bill. I'm trying to avoid personal liability for Tor the org.

comment:15 in reply to:  14 ; Changed 6 years ago by Kelley

Replying to phobos:

Why don't we have a call with the Bitcoin Foundation folks and/or the Bitpay people and map out the implementation plan and do it? I'm confident they would be thrilled or already are. Plus with their positive presence in DC lately I think this would be a very positive (PR) related move for Tor. I don't think the debate should be anymore whether to accept bit coins but how to accept bit coins which will keep our positive financial standing with the auditors.

Replying to mo:

If I had called Tor 10 years ago, it surely would have been equally "highly sketchy". Bitpay is expensive. The $30/month account (regardless of 'income'!) only allows for USD$10k donations per month. They don't even explain what the limits of the Starter accounts are, where they "only" take a cut of every transaction and no fixed monthly fee.

Bitpay said to me on the phone it was free of fees and without limits for charities. We're not looking to buy btc, just sell at spot rates.

The entire workflow is donation in btc -> processor -> USD -> USD in tor's bank account. We're not going to hold any btc or usd in any processor.

Also, if you called Tor 10 years ago, no one would answer because no one used the phone.

The other difference is bitpay wanted to validate the organization. Coinbase wanted to validate me, with copies of my social security card, passport, and a utility bill. I'm trying to avoid personal liability for Tor the org.

comment:16 in reply to:  15 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

Replying to Kelley:

Replying to phobos:

Why don't we have a call with the Bitcoin Foundation folks and/or the Bitpay people and map out the implementation plan and do it? I'm confident they would be thrilled or already are.

Sounds good to me.

comment:17 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

The auditors have sent their advice over and so long as we treat bitcoins as a foreign currency transaction by converting to USD as soon as possible, we should be good come audit time.

comment:18 Changed 6 years ago by mo

Consider getting in contact with PayGarden while you're at it. They are a payment processor for US gift cards, ranging from Adidas over Best Buy to Walmart. http://www.paygarden.com/brands

For many people these will actually be easier to buy than Bitcoin.

comment:19 Changed 6 years ago by Kelley

OK - I'll reach out to PayGarden as well. Sent my contact at Bitcoin Foundation an email yesterday. Will update this wiki when responses happen.

comment:20 Changed 6 years ago by arma

I should point out that if we have this set up and ready by Dec 27, Jake and I will bring in many thousands of dollars in bitcoin donations.

comment:21 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

We're almost setup with bitpay. Coinbase never responded.

comment:22 in reply to:  9 Changed 6 years ago by intrigeri

Replying to phobos:

Let's look at the blockchain to see how well the various orgs have done in taking bitcoins:

  1. Torservers, https://blockchain.info/address/17dHghQZw1hv7uAY5RLnGySQ8fUyazkpwu
  2. NoiseTor, https://blockchain.info/address/1PFH8NPWu2g6TdRQsirTPGpbnPBhkzQMvM
  3. Tails, https://blockchain.info/address/1BvBMSEYstWetqTFn5Au4m4GFg7xJaNVN2
  4. EFF, hidden behind a registration form
  5. FSF, https://blockchain.info/address/1PC9aZC4hNX2rmmrt7uHTfYAS3hRbph4UN

Does our direct acceptance of bitcoin take away from orgs 1, 2, or 3?

As far as Tails is concerned, my guess is "a bit, probably", but it is very hard to say.

Anyway, Tails should be able to accept donations in other currencies "soon". Then, we will stop redirecting every potential non-Bitcoin donor outright to the Tor project, which should make things more symmetric again.

comment:23 Changed 6 years ago by intrigeri

Cc: intrigeri@… added

comment:25 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

Our 21 hour donation intake via bitcoins is 4,835.97 USD.

comment:26 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

I'm going to wait until we can actually transfer the funds into our bank account before closing this ticket.

comment:27 Changed 6 years ago by arma

Have we raised our "max somebody can give us" value at bitpay? It seems there are quite a few people being turned down at its present $1k value. I know some of them are fake offers, but I bet not all of the $2k offers are fake.

comment:28 Changed 6 years ago by arma

Also when we're happy about the configuration, we should add an announce note to the frontpage of our website.

comment:29 in reply to:  27 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

Replying to arma:

Have we raised our "max somebody can give us" value at bitpay? It seems there are quite a few people being turned down at its present $1k value. I know some of them are fake offers, but I bet not all of the $2k offers are fake.

Yes. It's a kafka-esque process where they decide if one can move forward or not. Waiting on some sort of documentation request.

comment:30 in reply to:  28 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

Replying to arma:

Also when we're happy about the configuration, we should add an announce note to the frontpage of our website.

This was done last night.

comment:31 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

Resolution: implemented
Status: newclosed

bitcoins accepted and in our bank account.

comment:32 Changed 6 years ago by arma

I remain excited to see a resolution to the "you can't donate more than $1k in bitcoins" -- I'm not sure if this is five to ten people per day who are trying to do it and being rejected, or one persistent person.

comment:33 Changed 6 years ago by nickm

I'm maybe missing something crucial, but can't they donate $1k in bitcoins as many times as they like?

comment:34 Changed 6 years ago by arma

Yes I assume so. But a) more hassle, and b) they likely don't know it. I imagine they try to donate, get refused, and move on, thinking we're idiots with an incompetent interface.

comment:36 Changed 6 years ago by phobos

We've applied for the highest daily threshold possible with bitpay. It's up to them to allow or deny the $ and transaction limit. Their automated system said 4-5 business days before we hear anything.

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