Hong Kong Free Press’s Struggle to Accept Crypto & BitPay’s Struggle to Process It

Since March, the city of Hong Kong has seen waves of protesters who rally against a bill pushed by China that would allow criminals to be extradited from Hong Kong to China.

Helping protesters is Hong Kong Free Press, an independent publication covering the dissent in the region. Hong Kong Free Press is a not-for-profit organization run by journalists and fully relying on readers to keep going and help safeguard the freedom of press.


Struggles to accept crypto

The press agency started accepting Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash donations through BitPay in 2015, but is now going through some serious tensions preventing further crypto donations.

According to the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Tom Grundy, who posted on Reddit, their nonprofit has received a big number of crypto donations:

“We’ve seen a flurry of donations today! Help us pay for freelancers, safety gear, overtime, insurance etc.,” writes mod89, the paper’s alleged editor-in-chief.

At the time, they are processing payments through BitPay, a payment mediator that many regard as slow, and were experiencing big hiccups according to the Reddit thread. mod89 promised they would “have something better, and a crypto address, posted up soon after these protests settle.”

It seems the HKFP halted accepting Bitcoin altogether. At the time of writing, the website showed a notice across the Bitcoin payment option: “Sorry, this payment method is temporarily suspended.”

Also, despite mod89’s promise that “the Hong Kong Free Press accepts Bitcoin Cash as a donation method,” the news outlet is not accepting BCH as a donation at the moment either.


BitPay troubles

Tom Grundy took the issues with BitPay to Twitter accusing the payments processor of suspending donations to the Hong Kong Free Press:

“Funds held for weeks simply because Hong Kong banks use SWIFT and not IBANs. Truly the worst experience you can imagine. Poor reputation, abysmal communication, horrible customer service, very high fees. Almost any alternative will be better.”

Because of the bad experience, Tom Grundy even threatened taking legal action against BitPay.

Over the last few months, BitPay has been criticized for failing to process major crypto transactions and for arbitrarily freezing payments.

Earlier in September, controversy of BitPay was further aggravated when the company suspended a Bitcoin donation of $100,000. The funds were meant to go to Amazon Watch, a non-profit working to rehabilitate the land after rainforest fires in the Amazon. The donation was blocked because Amazon Watch’s maximum payment limit was set at less than $100,000. Truth be said, BitPay worked together with Amazon Watch to resolve the delay.

This and the recent introduction of mandatory KYC and AML rules cost BitPay a number of important customers and some users’ trust.

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