Liberapay now supports US dollars

Internationalization has been an important part of the Liberapay project since the beginning, and today we are pleased to announce a major step forward in this area: the transition to a multi-currency platform, with the US dollar joining the Euro in our ledgers.

We hadn’t planned to work on this in 2017, but when we heard that Gratipay was going to shut down at the end of the year we decided to step up. After three weeks of intense work we managed to implement basic support for the US dollar, as well as a tool to help Gratipay users migrate their accounts to Liberapay!

Modifying a platform like ours to handle multiple currencies is no small task, and if you enjoy Git stats you’ll be interested to know that this initial work totaled 38 commits, 97 files changed, 2261 insertions, and 1161 deletions. It’s one of the biggest changes to Liberapay’s source code since the service was launched in February 2016.

How does it work?

Every Liberapay account now has a “main” currency, as well as a toggle which determines whether donations in other currencies are accepted or rejected (the latter is the default).

Accepting foreign currencies can complicate things for you, but rejecting them can discourage some donors; the choice is yours. Of course a big factor to consider is whether your patrons are spread out around the world or concentrated in the same currency area as you.

Screenshot of the sign-up form with the new currency selector

Limitations

Our support of multiple currencies is still a work in progress:

  • We currently don’t support currency conversion, so you can’t convert your earnings before withdrawing them to your bank account. We know from experience that sending euros to a US account doesn’t always work, for example. To alleviate these problems we’re thinking of implementing automatic fee-less currency swapping inside Liberapay.
  • Teams are limited to a single currency, and it’s not possible to change it if the team is already receiving donations. These are temporary technical limitations.
  • Our payment processors don’t yet support the full range of payment methods used in the US, for example American Express cards and ACH (US direct debits) are still missing. This should improve over time, but it may take a while.

What about all the other currencies?

Our payment partner currently supports 9 other currencies which could be added to Liberapay: the British pound (GBP), the Canadian dollar (CAD), the Swedish krona (SEK), the Norwegian krone (NOK), the Danish krone (DKK), the Swiss franc (CHF), the South African rand (ZAR), the Polish złoty (PLN), and the Australian dollar (AUD). Please reach out to us if you’re interested in receiving donations in one of these currencies.

We do not support crypto-currencies, and we’re not planning to change that anytime soon.

Do I need to do something?

If you prefer euros and don’t want to accept dollars then you don’t need to do anything. If you prefer dollars, or if you’d like to allow your patrons to send you dollars even though you prefer euros, then you should modify your profile settings.

If you only use Liberapay to donate money, not to receive it, then there’s not much you can do at this point. Please be patient while creators decide how they want to handle foreign currencies, and while we work on polishing the patron side of that.

Finally, if you don’t have an account yet then you should sign up of course!


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