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Can a Wearable Bitcoin Wallet Bring Cryptocurrency Into Meatspace?

Op-ed - Can a Wearable Bitcoin Wallet Bring Cryptocurrency Into Meatspace?

Paying in Bitcoin already offers tons of advantages over credit cards. It’s by-default more secure, and on the internet at least, faster and easier. However, paying with bitcoin IRL has until now been pretty clunky, generally involving scanning multiple QR codes, signing and approving. All that may change, however, with the introduction of technology aimed at simplifying paying with Bitcoin at the point of sale. BIPS has made this possible by using the Samsung Galaxy Gear Watch.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear is an Android-based smartwatch that with a few tweaks is able to run just about any Play Store app, including Mycelium Bitcoin Wallet. With it, users can buy items in a store or share a dinner bill with a friend in Bitcoin with a tap of their watches. Perhaps most interestingly, it allows users to keep their private keys on a native hardware wallet, off and away from online wallets.

The most challenging aspects of accepting Bitcoin for brick-and-mortar retail businesses are clunkiness and differentiating each customer from the previous customers.

The watch is connected to the internet via Bluetooth phone tether. It is the first wearable Bitcoin wallet, taking what has previously been the realm of fitness and applying it to payments. Users can scan QR codes, make secure payments and even use Chirp to send payments via sound waves.

One aspect that is great for customers, but maybe not as great for merchants, is the fact that BIPS does not actually collect any customer information, only merchant information.

“The more information we collect the more prone we are to attacks and risking people’s personal data being leaked,” said Kris Henriksen, a media representative for BIPS. “Hence we have chosen not to collect merchants’ customer data as it is irrelevant to our services. And as such we do not need to replace the customer data credit cards provide.”

However, merchants find the customer data that credit card purchases provide extremely valuable. To make up for this deficit, whose value is undoubtedly overshadowed by the increased security of Bitcoin payments, merchants can take further advantage of customer loyalty programs.

Innovations in point of sale will make taking and offering Bitcoin as payment safer, easier and more efficient. Having more choices in how to pay is undoubtedly better, though it’s yet to be determined how long credit cards will remain the default mode of payment.