I’ve finally decided to pull the trigger on my Bitcoin Penpal mail forwarding idea. Ask @MadBitcoins about it! I’ve been sitting on the idea for a while now. Originally, I wanted a way to send a letter to all incarcerated persons involved within Bitcoin – particularly Mark Karpeles. However upon further investigation, I cannot personally forward mail to him! I must be registered as a close family member in order to be able to send correspondence. Maybe someone who knows his mother or father’s address would be able to mail letters to them with self addressed stamped envelopes? This service is barely less than 24 hours old, I could also add other products and features, such as stamps to be sent (I don’t know if those are confiscated, I’ll look into it and will add my notes later on in here – TURNS OUT they are, it’s best to send a money order to them so they can order stamps through commissary). In any case, someone by the name of DRDoGE1 had contacted me on Reddit and asked that I consider giving his merchant processing plugin a try. Naturally, I had this idea stirring about so it seemed like a good fit for me to try his solution while implementing my own. The name of the service in question is CryptoWoo, attempting to capitalize with the association to Woocommerce, the same platform I use here to sell products on honeybadgerofmoney.com. Right away, one concern I had was with needing to use https://Block.io. I had just heard about https://gear.mycelium.com so naturally I used that as a comparison. Here is the plugin author’s direct reply:
Block.io is used as a default for merchants that want to get started really quick but have more control over the checkout process, their data and their private keys than with a payment processor.
For merchants that want a more trustless setup, I will have an add-on that supports BIP32 (=generating addresses via xpub keys from Electrum, Trezor, etc.).
Mycelium gear is a nice alternative, especially if you don’t use a shopping system and have only a small amount of products, but afaik it is missing the integration into WooCommerce. I made CryptoWoo modular enough that with little modification you could actually use Mycelium Gear instead of the BIP32 integration via BitWasp’s library I am working on, but I figured if it’s possible to create the payment addresses without a third party, then I should do it that way.
Another thing to point out is the payment processing: I am using plain transaction data to confirm the orders instead of just callbacks from a third party provider (like Mycelium). I do this to make the merchant’s access point to the coin network replacable and completely independent from a specific blockchain API provider. To further reduce third party influence, merchants will later on be able to hook my plugin to their self-hosted blockexplorer, eg. BitPay’s Insight.
Admittedly the setup is intimidating initially, likely because this is a fairly new plugin (still in beta testing at the moment) – there are several steps where the user is asked to go into X file and add the following snippet: Y; for instance. I also was slightly put off by the requirement to utilize block.io for quick setup and refund processing capabilities – admittedly I did this over the course of an evening to get the site idea knocked out and implemented which for me wasn’t too difficult. If you have never setup a merchant processing account before, it is usually a matter of inputting your api keys and creating a callback page that writes your order data into the DB – when using woocommerce, the plugins will do this for you. Now, I know for sure of GoURL and of Coinpayments, but I’m certain that there are others including a coinbase and likely a bitpay processor capability plugin, so I’m fairly comfortable with usage. The key difference with those solutions and CryptoWoo is that this plugin can be implemented to work with a local node, block explorer, or webservice hook and out the box works with Doge, LTC, and BTC. There was even a zero confirmations threshold filter: in layman terms, that means you could set your store so that it approves zero confirmation transactions lower than, say, $50, but then have a confirmations rule set in (x number of confirmations till the order is approved). This is great for quick convenience – maybe you use the online store for in person realtime orders and have a long line of customers – 0 confirmations would have your customer out the door rather than waiting 10+ minutes for an order to clear.
While it has a rich feature set, the Cryptowoo solution does come with its own set of caveats. Are you NOT a programmer? Does the idea of setting a custom Cron Job and/or modifying your functions.php file scare you or lie out of reach for your situation? You may be more comfortable with CoinPayments instead. (I use Coinpayments for this website which was easy to setup, BUT has a fee associated with currency conversion for altcoins like Litcoin or Doge). There were also a couple bugs here and there that I think need to be ironed out with Cryptowoo (I had an issue where I needed to comment out a line of code I don’t feel comfortable sharing – I have spoken to DRDoGE1, the plugin author about it) and I have gotten a couple of error notifications of price update fails (both uniquely different – which is concerning – looking into my config details, I see I’ve gotten many more errors related to the price update which I’m presuming may have to do with my setup being incorrect – I’ll fix what I can and will give feedback soon), but other then that, the plugin worked as intended and admittedly I think it’s pretty cool! The long term model will likely be paid for brand free processing and free for Cryptowoo themed processing, from what I have gathered, sleuthing on their site.
Would you be interested in using my Bitcoin Mail Forwarding Service? Why or Why not? Let’s Discuss!