Chicago Sun-Times Becomes First Major U.S. Newspaper to Accept Bitcoin Payments

After months of successful bitcoin paywall trial earlier this year, the Chicago Sun-Times announced its partnership with San Francisco-based bitcoin startup Coinbase to accept Bitcoins as payment for subscription.

The Chicago Sun-Times is now accepting bitcoins as payment for subscription, becoming the first major U.S. newspaper to take the virtual currency. Photo: Marcus Frieze/Flickr

The Chicago Sun-Times is now accepting bitcoins as payment for subscription, becoming the first major U.S. newspaper to take the virtual currency. Photo: Marcus Frieze/Flickr

Today the Chicago Sun-Times announced that it would now accept bitcoin payments becoming the first major U.S. newspaper to take the digital currency.

“We were encouraged by our paywall experiment in February,” the publication’s publisher and editor-in-chief Jim Kirk said in an interview over Twitter. “We believe there is an opportunity here to expand our readership with Bitcoin.”

The paper had partnered with San Francisco-based bitcoin startup Bitwall to test bitcoin paywall back in February to support the non-profit Taproot foundation, which offers pro-bono service work to organizations tackling social problems.

Mr. Jim Kirk says that this particular move is a reflection of the paper’s “digital-first” strategy.

“Our goal is to keep the Sun-Times current and evolving with changing technology,” editor-in-chief said in a release. “Accepting bitcoin payments is one of many ways we are working to stay digitally focused.”

The company also claims that it is about to cooperate with Coinbase as it would offer subscribers the quickest way to begin paying for content with bitcoin. Editor-in-chief of the Chicago Sun-Times says this move is a continuation of the newspaper’s digital-first strategy and demonstrates the Chicago Sun-Times’ on-going commitment to technological advances.

Thanks to Coinbase technology, Chicago Sun-Times’ subscribers now have an opportunity to pay with bitcoin. Julian Posada, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for the Chicago Sun-Times, said their team was pleased with Coinbase’s support in this project.

“Coinbase seamlessly helped us through the technological integration of accepting bitcoin payments. Their simple process is easy to work with, and we are pleased by how quickly our subscribers could begin paying in bitcoin,” Posada said.

Josh Metnick, the CTO of Sun-Times parent company Wrapports, said the company is examining expanding Bitcoin payments to other products.

“The implications of this extend beyond just ability to process subscriptions — it is the furthering of our BTC processing capabilities such that we can extend it into other content and media products down the line,” he said in an email to Business Insider.

The Chicago Sun-Times boasts 6 million unique monthly online readers. According to the advertising and content provider industry group, called Alliance for Audited Media, the publication  was the eighth-largest U.S. newspaper by total average circulation in March 2013.

Despite the latest troubles with Japan-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, the Chicago Sun-Times represents a business that becomes part of the ‘first to accept Bitcoin’ group of sectors around the world, it’s not unique in accepting bitcoin, as many bitcoin blogs and news sites accept formal donations.

In the March interview with Examiner Mi Casa Home Health Care announced its acceptance of bitcoin payments due to its global clientele. FreedomPop announced also in March that 35% of its customers buy its refurbished mobile phones and security packaged phones with bitcoin payment.

Since last November, 99Designs has been handling increased requests for bitcoin illustrations for web design and logo work, according to Lauren Gard, PR manager in a statement for this article. Earlier this year, it was reported that Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad would also begin experimenting with bitcoin micropayments.

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