If you missed all the hoopla today, here's the Coles Notes on what happened: Regretsy set up a PayPal "donate" button to collect money to buy Christmas gifts for kids. PayPal didn't like the way the donate button was used and held on to the funds. The Internet then exploded with rage in the form of 1350 comments and 11,000 Reddit upvotes.
Meanwhile, in the Bitcoin community, thousands of "in-the-know" people tried their darndest to withhold their collective "I told you so" responses. As Bitcoin users, we've become pretty used to hearing stories of PayPal's indiscretions, kind of like when you buy a car and suddenly everyone around you seems to be driving that same car.
What caught my attention among the Reddit comments were the feelings of resignation:
"You have to admit PayPal had a pretty strong position. They're used by tons of people, integrated in many shopping carts. So the next thing will have to have some seriously earth-shattering benefits. The problem is even if there was something like that, how would it get adopted in the face of PayPal? Can marketing even do that?"
"They're not going to care. PayPal has a virtual monopoly in the industry. They don't care about bad press or pissed off customers."
"It must be said, a million times: Paypal is not a bank. Paypal is not a regulated service. Paypal can, at any time, for any reason, decide to take your money and not give it back, and there is absolutely shit all you can do about it. I have a paypal account for convenience, but I don't leave a single penny in it, precisely because of this. When I sell stuff, I don't use it, because they can just magically reverse things months later with no proof at all, and again, you're fucked, because they're not a regulated service and can do whatever they want.
Frankly, I'm surprised that we're in 2011 and there's still no regulated, insured, no-fucking-around way for me to send money to you and not get screwed by it, or at least one that's taken off and achieved the critical mass required to be useful. I guess paypal will just have to fuck around some more."
"I had a moneybookers account (exactly because I wanted a Paypal alternative) and, unfortunately, my overall experience was even worse than with Paypal. They froze some of my money (which Paypal hasn't done to me yet), the whole interface was confusing, customer service slow, fees even higher than Paypal... I decided to stop using it and grudgingly only use Paypal now."
"They have a... um, it rhymes with "nonopoly", that thingamajig where they can tell anyone they want to go fuck themselves at any time. When's the last time you saw a direct marketing or PR effort by Paypal? They're the only game in town, and you play by their rules if you want to play at all."
"PayPal is a horrible, horrible corporation, and I am pissed as all Hell that I am forced to use them in damn near every online transaction I make anymore."
"I have a feeling their customer base is just too big for them to feel the effects of stuff like this. When they're handling your money, there isn't much you can do but give in."
"A company soliciting payments can't effectively threaten to leave because they would cut themselves off from a huge amount of customers/donors. And losses from fraud cut into the razor thin margins paypal already faces. So "donation" buttons are treated with maximal suspicion and complaints are basically ignored."
Cue the Bitcoin100, a group of 100 (and eventually more) Bitcoin users who will donate at least one Bitcoin each to charitable organizations that are willing to add a Bitcoin donation option to their web page. There are over 60 people already signed up, including myself, with several offering to donate two, five, or even ten Bitcoins per charity.
The Bitcoin100's first target will be Regretsy. The moment Regretsy decides to accept Bitcoin, they will instantly receive several hundred dollars worth of Bitcoins which they can then exchange for dollars without having to deal with any bullying from PayPal. The Bitcoin100 is here to prove that accepting Bitcoin is painless and free.
Clearly, the Internet is desperate for an alternative to PayPal. Bitcoin will eventually be that alternative; maybe not yet, but eventually. Today's events have proven that the need is there and Bitcoin is well positioned to fill that gap.