Bitcoin: Is Bitcoin Coming To Retail?

As the future gets nearer, there are now several companies accepting Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, as payment. These include Microsoft, Virgin, and Expedia with more following suite each month. Undoubtedly this will mean the end of paper transactions, as digital currencies become the new normal.

Bitcoin payments have many benefits including alleviating transaction fees, which currently cost businesses every single time a transaction goes through. This is both nationally and internationally. So if transaction fees are removed completely, it will save retailers a lot of money in the long run. Alongside this, because Bitcoin is so similar to cash, there is less likelihood that the retailer will suffer fraudulent transactions. Either a customer has the money or doesn’t. Simple as that! Here we explore how this exciting concept is moving forward.

The Technology Behind It

Although this still seems like a pipe-dream, development is already in progress on the technology to bring this dream to reality. According to experts, work is currently being undertaken to improve the efficiency and ease of use of the payment technology, which is scheduled to be used. The aim is to connect the lighting network with the near-field communication (NFC) standard, enabling users to pay using their smartphone. It would mean that payments are instant through this new system, which is named “Presto” at the moment.

Early research has also indicated that any computer can become a point-of-sale terminal for the lighting network by simply using a pre-programmed USB. This would make it extremely fast and simple for retailers to roll it out. This is a huge positive for the implementation of the new concept.

Although there is the possibility to use QR codes for the transactions, industry leaders are suggesting that QR codes can be restrictive especially when additional information needs to be built in. NFC, on the other hand, can be used to provide itemized receipts and coupons for every customer. QR codes will, therefore, most likely work alongside the NFC software.

The First Steps

The initial steps to develop the above are now being taken with compatibility being the first major hurdle. Insiders explain that this is not a quick process, simply because this new concept is groundbreaking. New processes, protocols, and standards (“Bolts”) need to be put in place initially before things can progress any further. However, by being so thorough in these early stages means that everything is in place to roll out consistently and effectively in the near future. Coupled with this, research is also being undertaken at the same time to make sure that NFC payments can still be processed even if the point of sale is offline.

So far, early feedback has been positive from the technical field although some are skeptical that we are a few years too early with this concept. The lack of hardware at the point of sale to support lighting is the main concern. Release dates have yet to be made available on when this new approach will be launched.

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