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Now Accepting Bitcoin!
Update: Things evolve quickly in the Bitcoin economy - while much of the information here is still valid, please seek newer resources for for learning about acquiring or transacting Bitcoin and for learning best practices.
ProtoParadigm is proud to announce that we will now be accepting Bitcoin! At first we need to call this a trial, but as long as everything keeps moving smoothly, we'll keep taking it.
If you don't know what Bitcoin is, take a look at this video:
Bitcoin is a software and communications protocol that implements a distributed digital currency. Bitcoins (lower-case when not at the beginning of a sentence) are the unit of account, the tradeable value that is transacted within the Bitcoin network. To find out more about Bitcoin and have some of your questions answered, please check out the Bitcoin wiki.
Why we Chose to Begin Accepting Bitcoins
Bitcoin is by definition secure and decentralized. There are many good political, philosophical and economical reasons to use Bitcoin, which you can read about for yourself in the wiki linked above. In particular, our processing fees for Bitcoin transactions are lower than our other payment methods which helps us expand our product offerings and invest in more research.
We finally decided to make this move since we are at the historic point at which half of the bitcoins that can ever be discovered have been. Bitcoin as an ecosystem has matured to the point where we are comfortable jumping in; the variety of currency exchanges, payment processing options, and other vendors that deal in Bitcoin have given us enough confidence to try it out.
We see a promising future for Bitcoin in the world economy and want to encourage adoption among our customers, partners, and competitors.
If you would like to get started with Bitcoin, your first task is to make sure you understand the security issues involved. Please read the Bitcoin Introduction on the wiki, as well as Securing Your Wallet. If your wallet data is ever stolen or lost you can lose all of your bitcoins; for this reason, we suggest Bitcoin Armory as a wallet. Bitcoin Armory will generate a paper wallet you can use as a backup (placed in a safe, safe deposit box, or other (potentially multiple) safe, but secure places), and also provides many nice convenience features. Bitcoin Armory is also compatible with the Click-to-Pay feature on many websites, including ours. There are also e-wallet services available, but we have not researched these and cannot provide a recommendation though many people trust them.
To fund your wallet, check out bitinstant. Here you can create deposit slips that you can take to a variety of popular local retailers to change your cash into bitcoins, they provide other deposit methods as well. For other exchange options, take a look at the Buying Bitcoins page on the wiki.
How to Check-Out With Bitcoin
If you want to use Bitcoin here, just proceed through checkout as usual. When you get to the payment method section, just select Bitcoin. When you advance, it will present you with the payment information, giving you the option to click to pay if you use a desktop wallet application that supports it, a QR code you can scan with your phone or tablet if you use a mobile wallet application, and an address you can copy and paste into the wallet application of your choice to initiate the transaction. Within seconds after the payment is made the interface should update to indicate this and you may proceed. Please make sure to press "place order" after your payment has been received.
If you have any trouble, please contact us at support AT protoparadigm DOT com.
What Else to do With Bitcoins
In addition to ProtoParadigm, a growing number of retailers accept Bitcoin, you can see a (growing, incomplete) list on the Trade page on the wiki. If you like the philosophy and technology behind Bitcoin, you can also spread the word and tell your favorite companies about it.
You can also use Bitcoin as an intermediary when switching between currencies, using any of several currency exchanges (also listed on the trade page linked above). If you're a developer, there is also a lot of potential for using Bitcoin behind the scenes to move money securely from one automated system to another.
If you want to exchange your bitcoins for cash, you can use one of the many currency exchanges.
If you're a gambler, you can also hang onto them and hope they will appreciate in value. There are several reasons to believe they will: the supply is limited by the definition of the protocol and the demand has been continually growing, because lost bitcoins cannot be recovered to be reintroduced to the economy this will also shrink the supply over time. On the other hand, there's also the possibility that Bitcoin will cease to be, that people will stop deciding it has value (something we're betting against), or that users will cash out to migrate to a different, competing currency.
If you have any questions about the technology feel free to comment below, but we're probably going to point you to the same resources we've already linked to. If you're a Redditor, you could also check out the Bitcoin subreddit. On IRC, you can check out #bitcoin on freenode.