The Chicago Sun-Times made a splash last week when they became the first major newspaper in the United States to accept bitcoin for subscription purchases.
The move followed a purely voluntary paywall trial in February which allowed website visitors to donate bitcoin to the Taproot Foundation. In total, there were about 715 bitcoin donors, 63 percent of whom donated around 25 cents. With 78,000 visitors that day, there was about a one percent conversion rate, better than any credit card conversion rate the Sun-Times has ever gotten.
And with last week’s news, newsBTC has been provided with some figures on subscriptions paid for in bitcoin.
About 11.3 percent of news orders this week were paid for in bitcoin, I’m told, amounting to 7 purchases. Two of the purchases were made from Chicago, the other 5 from other parts in the United States.
Two orders came in from New York City, one from Fairbanks, Alaska, one from Berkeley, California, and another from Clemson, South Carolina. These are markets not ordinarily reached by the Sun-Times.
Compared to traditional sales, the Sun-Times saw 55 orders this week via what was described to me as “regular channels” — online and by telephone.
Of those 55 orders, 23 were placed by using a credit card online, and 32 from the Sun-Times call center. The call center makes outbound sales calls, too, so it’s unclear just what the percentage of inbound vs. outbound sales were.
I should note that I received this information earlier this week, and as such, these figures may have increased.
“I’m actually blown away by the orders,” said Josh Metnick, CTO at Wrapports, LLC, the publisher of the Sun-Times. “The key metric will be measuring this over time — we got a really nice initial PR boost with this, now the question is how will this affect sales over the next 3, 6, 12 months?”
“How will we repurpose, modify our marketing locally as Bitcoin adoption grows, so that more and more every-day people understand the advantages of paying with Bitcoin, etc?” he continued.
Those advantages are broad. And more and more companies are discovering the benefits of going bitcoin.
The adoption of bitcoin by the Sun-Times may also set a precedent in the newspaper publishing industry — an industry that’s had its share of experience adapting to these digital times we live in.
Could other major newspapers in the United States (and around the world, for that matter) follow suit and begin accepting a digital currency for digital subscription purchases? The answer, of course, will come with time.