Bitcoin processor links web shopping carts to Amazon.com's shipping

For retailers, it means orders paid with bitcoin are automatically sent to Amazon for shipping

Amazon.com and bitcoin now have an interesting link: A popular e-commerce shopping cart for merchants can now accept bitcoin payments and move orders to Amazon for shipping.

BitPay, which develops software and payment services for merchants around bitcoin, said it has developed a special module for WooCommerce, a widely used e-commerce platform and shopping cart for WordPress.

The module is designed for merchants who are using WooCommerce with Fulfillment by Amazon, which stores and ships merchandise for retailers to 65 countries, said Tony Gallippi, co-founder and CEO of BitPay. BitPay plans to eventually add Fulfillment by Amazon modules to other payment platforms.

Many retailers who have their own web storefronts use Amazon's fulfillment service to tap the company's expertise in areas such as logistics and customs regulations, Gallippi said.

Once a bitcoin payment has been processed, the WooCommerce module sends Amazon the information it needs to ship a package using Amazon's API (application programming interface), such as the purchaser's address and the item's identification number.

BitPay is ahead of PayPal with the new module, Gallippi said. Merchants who take a PayPal payment with WooCommerce must then manually enter the information needed by Amazon to ship the product, he said.

BitPay, based in Atlanta, had some technical conversations with Amazon about how to implement the fulfillment API, but no commercial discussions, Gallippi said.

BitPay's development is an interesting one for bitcoin, the virtual currency that is gaining traction as an alternative payment platform. Retailers are generally skittish about international transactions, since they face a risk that a credit card or PayPal payment may be fraudulent and reversed.

Bitcoin's system allows people to send money over a peer-to-peer system that cryptographically verifies transactions. Due to the way the system is architected, it's not possible to fraudulently spend bitcoins held by another person.

That offers a great advantage for retailers, who may see interest from customers in other countries but are afraid to take payments. It also opens an avenue for merchants to take bitcoin payments from people who, for example, can't get a PayPal account or a credit card.

"With bitcoin, suddenly the whole world is opening to you," Gallippi said. "You can accept a payment from Nigeria."

Bitcoin, launched in 2009, is a very young platform but one that has been gaining favor. The domain-name registrar and hosting company Namecheap said earlier this week it would begin accepting bitcoins, following Reddit, the file-sharing service Mega and WordPress.

In November, WordPress announced it would accept bitcoins in order to accept payments from users in countries not supported by PayPal or credit card companies.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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