January 17, 2015
A growing number of developers in the digital currency space are looking to contactless technologies to simplify and speed up secure payments. A number of crypto-currency wallet providers are leveraging technologies like NFC to keep up with the growing adoption of contactless payments and enable virtual currencies to be part of mainstream mobile payments. Here are some companies taking initiatives in this regard:
The Airbitz mobile wallet allows users the ability to send Bitcoin with Bluetooth, a cool feature that would make Bitcoin transactions possible even when cell service is not available. If a QR code is not available, users can simply send funds through Bluetooth rather than going through the tedious process of typing out a complete Bitcoin address. The wallet itself features a built in business directory of brick and mortar stores and online websites that accept Bitcoin. The app has a directory tab which will display the location and current distance from all businesses that accept Bitcoin in the user’s vicinity.
The bitcoin payments processor had unveiled its Bitcoin Checkout app last year that brought one-tap payments to cryptocurrency. The Bitcoin Checkout app works with every bitcoin wallet on any device — users can scan the QR code and be done in a few clicks. However, the NFC functionality that enables the one-touch payment is only available for Android devices. The company has also integrated SumUp, a European POS company, into its own system to allow SumUp to accept Bitcoin. The app supports 40 different languages and includes a number of features like multi-employee checkout, tipping and tip reporting.
The bitcoin wallet and payments service has integrated near-field communication (NFC), enabling users to transact with its Android app wherever bitcoin and NFC are accepted. Touchless mobile payments are currently available for select Circle users. Circle also offers a digital money platform that delivers streamlined, user-friendly functionality similar to that of traditional online payment tools. The company had released the native mobile wallet apps for Android and iOS in November last year. The apps earlier enabled in-person transactions using QR Codes.
The popular bitcoin wallet enables transfer of bitcoins via email, QR code and NFC as well. Coinbase is a hosted bitcoin wallet, which means that users access the same account on their phone as in their web browser, and updates between the two are instantaneous. Users’ money is stored securely in the cloud (with 90% offline in secure storage), so if they lose their phone, their money is still safe. Users can even remotely disable access to their phone (if it’s lost or stolen).
Coinplug is exploring other options in 'online-to-offline' (O2O) payments. Post a recent update, Coinplug’s Android wallets now allow users to send and receive bitcoin via NFC on compatible devices, rather than with QR codes. The company has launched out a rolling pre-paid bitcoin purchasing service to around 24,000 convenience stores in South Korea, with 8,000 7-Eleven stores already participating. The company raised $2.5 Mn in funding in October last year.
The Hive Legacy bitcoin wallet by Hive Labs enables touch-to-pay via NFC. It allows users to click on Bitcoin payment links from within your Android phone or tablet’s browser. Transaction data can also be transferred through Bluetooth, and users can back up encrypted copies of their account as well. The app has support for payment protocol BIP70 for increased security, reliability and speed in making payments.
The UK-based altcoin exchange recently announced the re-launch of their online exchange, along with a mobile app for payments and merchant services. LazyCoins’ LazyPay mobile wallet is in the final stages of development and supports NFC for faster payments. LazyCoins itself was launched to the public in beta version back in July last year. The company is ready to launch its services after successful QA and security penetration tests from a reputable security firm. It is currently pursuing the necessary legal requirements with HMRC and other regulatory bodies to ensure full compliance before LazyPay services are officially launched.
One of the bigger features added in the recent update of this mobile wallet is the support for Near Field Communications (NFC) payments. Instead of having to scan a QR code, users who are paying a merchant can just hold their phone over an NFC terminal, and the correct amount will pop up. With one touch of the screen, the payment is sent. Users will also be able to use it to pay people with NFC enabled phones by bringing their phone in proximity to another phone. The mobile wallet also offers customizable transaction fees. This feature allows users to adjust their fee to how the network is doing and ensure their transaction is confirmed in an ideal time frame.