BitPay releases merchant app to rival Apple Pay

Bitcoin merchant processor BitPay has released a new merchant app enabling one-touch bitcoin payments at the point of sale.

Bitcoin Checkout debuted at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas this week.

In what the company describes as a “seamless” experience, customers can hold their tablet or smartphone over the merchant’s point-of-sale device and – using NFC (near-field communication) technology – submit their digital cash by tapping ‘send

The Bitcoin Checkout app works with every bitcoin wallet on any device. For the NFC functionality, however, the app only works on Android devices, partially because Apple has shut down its NFC capability to anything but Apple Pay.

Executive chairman Tony Gallippi said only three wallets that Bitpay has tested so far work with NFC: Mycelium, Bitcoin Wallet and Hive. But some bitcoin wallet apps have yet to turn on their NFC compatibility, and Gallipi expects this number to rise rapidly.

Without NFC, Bitcoin Checkout uses QR codes, still an industry standard for bitcoin wallets, BitPay’s lead UX engineer Jason Dreyzehner told CoinDesk.

The new app is a step up from Bitpay’s previous merchant support system, which catered to very small businesses as a functional, no frills product.

Now, the app can be used as a standalone product or alongside existing systems – including BitPay’s own retail point-of-sale partners: Soft Touch, Visual Touch and DC POS. Using their existing BitPay account, merchants can pair as many point-of-sale devices to the system as they need.

Introducing this new functionality is likely a move to attract bigger, fast-moving businesses with a large roster of part- and full-time staff, namely shops, bars and restaurants – a growing number of which already accept the digital currency.

While Apple Pay may have attracted large international corporations – as has its QR code using rival CurrentC – bitcoin has a definite advantage for medium sized businesses. Namely, the negligible fees and low operating costs associated with bitcoin transactions.

While CurrentC is banking on a lack of credit card fees to draw in retailers, it has already fallen victim to an email list hacking. Gallippi remains confident bitcoin can compete, and innovate, in the payments arena.

“For retailers, accepting mobile payments is a growing trend, but none of today’s industry offerings can provide a lower risk or lower cost than swiping a credit card,” he said.

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