Úno 02

My Bank App is Better Than Bitcoin for Payments (And That’s Fine)

The cryptocurrencies are faster and cheaper narrative has fizzled out as banks have embraced digital payments in recent years, improving customer experience and usability. Sure, buying a beer with a QR-code may give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it isn’t the problem Bitcoin solves. It is much more than that.

Banks Go Digital

An all-too-common narrative a few years back was that Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) would outcompete the likes of Visa and Mastercard with speed and cheaper transactions.

“Won’t somebody think of the merchants” was an often-repeated argument in 2014-215 because credit card companies typically charge around 3 percent service fee to process payments.

Fast forward a few years and merchants haven’t budged. Nor are they jumping on payment-focused coins either like Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash etc. So why didn’t they stick it to Visa and switch to ‘crypto’?

Digital fiat payments have actually become not only more ubiquitous but also much easier and cheaper. Though the latter is partially due to costs being offset by selling customer info to advertisers (which is a topic for another article).

Banks have indeed upped their game as far as user-friendliness goes with mobile apps, contactless payments, in-app integration, you name it. In fact, it’s never been easier to part ways with your money than it is today.

contactless payment nfc pay to swipe card

My Bank Card Beats Your Favorite Coin

My card, given to me by my bank, is tied to an app on my phone so I can check my balance and track all my balance and transaction history. I was impressed when BTC wallets did this six years ago. But banks have caught up fast and are beating cryptocurrencies in this arena.

The card/app work seamlessly together enabling contactless payments in the store, on public transport, and pretty much anywhere Visa/Mastercard are accepted, which is literally everywhere.

Sure, discussing Bitcoin is fun and all. But sometimes I just want a quick coffee without proselytizing Bitcoin to a barista who obviously doesn’t care about censorship-resistance and decentralized consensus protocols.

I should also mention that my bank has excellent customer support. It knows who I am and will block anyone else from using my account with the press of a button on my smartphone. My bank will refund me any money lost due to fraud – which is very reassuring unlike that uneasy feeling of possibly sending BTC to the wrong address by mistake.

What’s more, I can send money instantly to my friends for absolutely zero fees. And why wouldn’t it be zero? My bank is using a good old database after all – not your blockchain that takes minutes to confirm.

In other words, big blocks, small blocks, medium-sized blocks – none of this can compete when it comes to the speed and efficiency of a centralized database for payments.

My bank app even has a QR-code option for in-person payments if I’m feeling extra Bitcoin-ish.

The Problem That Bitcoin Solves

Bitcoin, however, wasn’t meant to compete with Visa or Paypal. Digital payments were already gaining traction when Bitcoin spawned from the 2008 financial crisis.

Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model.

– Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin Whitepaper

Bitcoin was instead designed as an alternative to the central banking system that has historically abused the public’s trust. One hyperinflationary episode is all it takes and the money becomes worth less than the paper it’s printed on.

Bitcoin’s monetary policy, on the other hand, is completely transparent, its supply and inflation rate is known, and it’s the hardest form of money to ever exist. Yes, even more than gold because mathematical scarcity beats perceived scarcity. 

These attributes make it a money technology that has never existed before – and more importantly, removes the need to trust any intermediary.

In an article titled The Problem That Bitcoin solves, economist and The Bitcoin Standard author, Saifedean Ammous, explains:

[Paul Krugman] seems, mistakenly, to assume bitcoin is competing with consumer payment networks like Visa or PayPal….that is not what bitcoin is best suited for. Rather, bitcoin is an international settlement network, one that competes with the central bank settlement systems that are the foundation upon which networks like Visa or PayPal depend.

Therefore, the ‘payments for coffee on the blockchain’ narrative is dying because paying for stuff and accepting digital payments today isn’t a problem for people.

However, the public is also slowly realizing why Bitcoin isn’t going away. Particularly as publications like Time magazine release articles titled ‘Why Bitcoin Matters for Freedom’ and places like Venezuela are demonstrating how Bitcoin is literally saving lives.

That’s not to say that payments aren’t important. This and other use-cases will be built as ‘apps’ harnessing the trustless Bitcoin blockchain (e.g. Lightning Network). But they’re secondary to what’s really at stake here in an increasingly authoritarian and cashless fiat system: financial sovereignty.

Do you agree that Bitcoin’s primary role is to preserve financial sovereignty? Share your thoughts below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

Kvě 26

Tech Reporter Gets NFC Payment Chip Implant In His Hand

Source: bitcoin


When a Bitcoin user embedded a payment chip into his hand, people assumed he was crazy. But apparently, he sparked a bright concept, as tech reporter Charlie Warzel did the same with an NFC-enabled payment chip.

Also read: Kraken Details the Latest Mt Gox Creditors Meeting

It is important for users to keep in mind that this type of body modification carries certain risks. Our bodies are not designed to contain metal or electronics on the inside. That isn’t keeping some people from exploring the boundaries of biohacking, as even tech reporters are not immune to this temptation.

NFC Payment Chip In A Hand

One Buzzfeed reporter has taken it upon himself not to use a wallet for expenses during a whole month. Given how mobile and contactless payments are evolving, that should not be much of a challenge. However, no one expected Charlie Warzel would get an NFC payment chip implanted inside his hand.

Relying on mobile payments alone was not a viable solution in the end, as there is no widespread adoption in the US. Ditching cash and credit cards is not feasible just yet, and Warzel decided to take a different approach. NFC payments are becoming more common, though, albeit that does not warrant embedding a payment chip in one’s hand.

Biohacking is a hot trend these days, as there is a certain appeal to merging technology with the human body. There is a full Injection Kit available to embed a payment chip into one’s hand, although doing so is not advised. Besides, these chips are still rather “dumb”, as they need to be programmed to make payments. One Venmo engineer programmed the payment chip so Warzel could it to pay for dinner.

While this does not mean everybody will start biohacking in the next few years, it is an interesting story to say the least. Consumers seem to be in favor of ditching their wallets altogether, and biohacking is an alternative solution. A rise in payment chips within consumers’ hands is not expected anytime soon, though.

It is not the first time biohacking and payments are coming together. A dedicated Bitcoin user implanted a wallet solution into his hand in the past, which shocked the world. As it turns out, he may have started a whole new trend of biohacking. Until NFC payments become the norm around the world, there is very little point in doing so, though.

What are your thoughts on biohacking and putting an NFC payment chip into one’s hand? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Bank Innovation

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Iconfinder

The post Tech Reporter Gets NFC Payment Chip Implant In His Hand appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

Tech Reporter Gets NFC Payment Chip Implant In His Hand

Dub 06

Circle CEO: “Blockchain Will Sooner Disrupt The Mobile Payments Industry”

Source: bitcoin


An exciting partnership between Barclays and Bitcoin exchange Circle could lead to a slew of new features and innovations in the digital payment industry. Moreover, this is very positive news for Bitcoin as well, as the European bank is letting Circle use their existing infrastructure to provide real-time conversion from GBP and EUR to Bitcoin, and vice versa.

Also read: How to Implement the Blockchain in Financial Institutions

Circle – A New Era Of Bitcoin and Banking?

Up until this point, very few banks have been keen on the concept of Bitcoin, although they all seem to see high value in the underpinning blockchain technology. In fact, consumers have had their bank accounts shut down in the past due to a link with Bitcoin, which was of particular concern to enthusiast sin the United Kingdom.

But all of that is about to change, by the look of things, as the new partnership between Circle and Barclays can be seen as a milestone for the digital currency. Circle users are now able to send and receive GBP transfers to other users on the platform, as well as convert between USD and GBP without any additional fees.

It is well worth noting the UK Treasury was one of the biggest advocates for this solution, as it is a “significant milestone” to have Circle available to customers in the United Kingdom. Quite a strange statement from an institution that could see Bitcoin as a potential threat, but it is more than welcome news for sure.

But there is more, as Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire hinted at a future expansion of supported fiat currencies. In fact, he mentioned how support for EUR transfers will be coming later this year, and how plans are set in motion to bring Circle to Asian markets as well.  If this were to happen, exciting things are bound for Bitcoin and digital currency enthusiasts.

Jeremy Allaire continued by saying that:

“The blockchain will sooner disrupt the mobile payments industry, which really is a “blank slate” for innovators. Payments are the next thing to be commoditised as a free service”

Barclays is one of the many banks working on bringing common standards for blockchain technology to the table. Once such a protocol is put in place, it should become a lot easier to bridge the gap between Bitcoin and traditional finance. Moreover, all of the participants would be able to benefit from the advantages of blockchain technology.

Are you excited about this partnership between Barclays and Circle? What will this mean for Bitcoin in the UK? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: FT

Images courtesy of Circle, Barclays

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Circle CEO: “Blockchain Will Sooner Disrupt The Mobile Payments Industry”

Bře 31

Recent PayPal Exploit Shows Benefits of Decentralized Payment Solutions

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Malicious Code

Online payments are becoming more and more important every day, but that doesn’t mean the platforms we use are stepping up their security game. PayPal, one of the largest online payment processors in the world, recently fell victim to a bug in their account system, allowing users to send malicious code through confirmation emails. Luckily, the person discovering this issue has reported the exploit to PayPal through their bug bounty program, rather than using it for malicious intent.

Also read: Cashila Announces Convenient Buy and Sell Feature For Ethereum

Sending Malicious Code With PayPal Confirmation Emails

Larger online payment processing platforms have a bigger chance of becoming vulnerable to some form of exploit sooner or later. Luckily for PayPal, German security researcher Benjamin Kunz Mejri discovered a flaw which he reported to the company immediately. If someone else had made this discovery, the company would have been off far worse.

The way this exploit works is by sending emails with malicious code through an existing PayPal account. Sending an email to a different PayPal user requires users to fill in a name – usually first and last name – but it turned out that entry field could be filled with random code, including malicious scripts.

Doing so was not as straightforward as it sounds, though, as Mejri had to bypass a security filter, which can be seen in the video below this article. Once that step was completed, he used the Paypal feature to share an account with other users by adding multiple email addresses. This feature can be compared to a multisignature Bitcoin wallet, albeit with entirely different security precautions.

All of the email addresses on the list to share this particular PayPal account with would receive a confirmation email to accept this invitation. Once a user opens this email, the malicious code is executed in the background, originating from PayPal’s servers. As most people have guessed by now, this method makes it rather easy to execute phishing attacks against other users, while ensuring the email sender is PayPal, rather than spoofing the header.

Other exploits included session hijacking, and even redirecting the user to different web pages or websites. Luckily for all PayPal users, this exploit has been patched in early March 2016, and Mejri received a US$1,000 bounty for reporting this security flaw. White hat hackers are of incredible value to financial service providers, which is why companies such as PayPal have their bug bounty program.

Bitcoin is An Answer To Centralized Services

Although Paypal is one of the most popular online payment processors in the world, their entire business model is as centralized as it can get. Not only do they take a cut of every transaction – and quite a big one too – but they also hold on to customer funds when both depositing and withdrawing money. Relying on a service with a central point of failure is putting consumer’s funds at risk.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, is entirely decentralized at its core, although there are centralized platforms in this ecosystem as well. Financial control is something very few consumers are accustomed to,  and no longer relying on centralized services requires a major mind shift. However, for those willing to take financial matters into their own hands, Bitcoin is a viable option.

What are your thoughts on this recent PayPal vulnerability? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Tweakers (Dutch)

Images courtesy of PayPal, Shutterstock

The post Recent PayPal Exploit Shows Benefits of Decentralized Payment Solutions appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

Recent PayPal Exploit Shows Benefits of Decentralized Payment Solutions

Úno 10

Australian Banks Indirectly Help Bitcoin By Boycotting Apple Pay

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Mobile Payment

The mobile payment sector is heating up, as every company and financial institution are scrambling to launch their platform in the near future. Over in Australia, it will not be smooth sailing for Apple Pay by any means, as the country’s major banks continue to boycott the popular mobile payment solution. NAB was among the first to launch their own mobile app, and now ANZ Mobile Pay is here as well. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is creating a far less fractured payment ecosystem around the world.

Also read: Diamond Market Meets Bitcoin Through Bitcoin.de

Apple Pay Battle in Australia Becomes A Lot Harder

Even when consumers might be preferring to use Apple Pay for their mobile purchases, they will be unable to do so unless their bank participates in the project. In Australia, the likelihood of being able to pay with Apple Pay is becoming is becoming much smaller on a monthly basis, as the country’s major banks keep boycotting this solution.

Similar to the struggles Apple is facing in Canada; bank participating remains a key issue in Australia. There is a lot of friction between all parties, only because the technology giant is looking to take a slice of interchange revenues in these countries. Needless to say, in this day and age of financial turmoil, banks are even less keen on sharing their revenue with other players.

Now that ANZ, one of Australia’s four major banks, has released their mobile payment application for Android users, things are looking even more bleak for Apple Pay. Making payments through ANZ Mobile Pay requires the user to tap their card against the phone, enter the date of birth and mobile number, and then choose their preferred payment option.

This process will have to be repeated for every individual card ANZ customers want to link to the mobile solution. However, with the wide variety of credit and debit cards that are supported, some customization is possible. Furthermore, ANZ Mobile Pay users can withdraw money using their phone at several ATMs supporting contactless withdrawals.

Although it is a positive sign to see major banks focusing some of their attention on the mobile ecosystem, this plethora of different apps is creating a fractured world of payment solutions. In the end, the consumer will not benefit from all of these solutions, as they prefer a streamlined system without too much hassle.

Bitcoin is Streamlined And Globally Available

Unlike these mobile payment solutions requiring bank participation, the Bitcoin ecosystem is very much streamlined. In fact, it would be difficult not to streamline it, as there is no unnecessary mingling by third parties, banks, or governments. This is one of Bitcoin’s major strengths, as it carries on unencumbered by these woes.

Getting one’s hands on Bitcoin has become easier over time as well. Most countries have one or more Bitcoin exchange, there are Bitcoin ATMs, and even peer-to-peer trades are a possibility. Plus, with the limited amount of coins in circulation, there is a chance for a value increase down the line.

What are your thoughts on banks releasing their own mobile payment solution? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: ANZ

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, ANZ

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Australian Banks Indirectly Help Bitcoin By Boycotting Apple Pay

Led 27

Over Half of Mobile Payment Companies Have No Control Over Financial Data

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Mobile Payment

Even though plenty of consumers are looking forward to using new and innovative mobile payment solutions, there are still a lot of security issues that need to be addressed. A recent study conducted by Ponemon Institute shows how mobile transactions lack proper security measures to keep payment data safe. As a result, there is a huge lack of confidence by both consumers and businesses. Bitcoin, on the other hand, has no issues securing mobile payments and is available for consumers all over the world.

Also read: Belgian Government Aims To Prevent Bitcoin Money Laundering

Data Breaches Affect Mobile Payment Sector

Based on the information provided by the global study by Ponemon Institute, close to half of the people surveyed admitted their company suffered from a breach. As one would come to expect, hackers have been attempting to exploit various types of payment information in the hopes of finding the honeypot.

But what makes this report of particular worry is how most of the companies affected by these breaches have been targeted by hackers at least four times in the past two years. This is not a positive trend by any means, especially when considering how mobile payments are gaining more momentum all over the world.

If that wasn’t enough to make some people’s blood boil, over half of the companies surveyed admitted they have no idea where the payment data is stored in the first place. As is the case with any form of payment that relies on traditional finance, information goes through several “hands”, and it is hard to figure out who owns what part of the information at any given time.

With new mobile payment solutions on the horizon, these security issues will need to be addressed sooner or later. Preferably sooner, as consumers are becoming more wary of which companies they put their trust in, especially where financial details are concerned. If companies have no clue where the data ends up, or how it is being used by any of their partners, consumers are more likely to look for alternative solutions.

Mobile payments are an important aspect of everyday life for a lot of consumers. However, if their payment information would be leaked somehow, the mobile payment trend will start to drop off again, until proper security measures are put in place. Whether or not these up-and-coming solutions can provide that level of security, remains to be seen, though.

Bitcoin is Far More Secure And Available On Mobile

Unlike all of these new mobile payment solutions, Bitcoin has proven to be a far more secure solution for many years now. As the end user is put in full financial control at all times, and with there not being a link to bank accounts or credit cards, no sensitive information is passed along with every transaction.

Furthermore, Bitcoin is not subject to fraud or chargebacks, making it a preferably solution for businesses all over the world. With Bitcoin’s global appeal, it is the only form of mobile payment that offers security and convenience at the same time. As far as protecting financial data goes, there is no match for Bitcoin in the mobile world to this day.

What are your thoughts on the results of this study by Ponemon Institute/ What can companies to do secure mobile payments? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Finextra

Images courtesy of Ponemon Institute, Shutterstock

The post Over Half of Mobile Payment Companies Have No Control Over Financial Data appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

Over Half of Mobile Payment Companies Have No Control Over Financial Data

Led 24

The Future Impact of Eye-tracking On Wearables and Bitcoin Payments

Source: bitcoin


Technology is evolving at a very rapid pace these days, and newer trends are emerging even before the previous iteration could gain any mainstream traction. Wearables have not become all that popular just yet – simply because the excitement wears off quite fast – but that isn’t keeping companies from coming up with new ideas. Eye-controlled smartwatches open up interesting possibilities for payments and Bitcoin in the future.

Also read: Bitcoin Core Launches Social Media Presence

Creating Touchless Wearables

One of the main gripes consumers have when it comes to wearables is how they are fun for a few months and are then mostly stowed away in a drawer somewhere. The initial hype and excitement associated with new wearables go away relatively fast, and manufacturers are not sure how they should tackle this problem.

If it was up to certain companies, the future of wearables will feature touchless devices, where things can be controlled with a flick of the eyes instead of swiping. While most of the actions we do on a daily basis do not even require a wearable device to begin with, there is a certain appeal to this concept.

That being said, any form of technology that uses eye-tracking has been less than successful so far. Especially when it comes to replicating a scrolling motion, there has been a lot of stutter when projecting this technology on eye-tracking. But that situation has come to change, as researchers from the University of Lancaster have come up with an innovative and smoother scrolling method.

On a technical level, the new method would work as follows: wearables will be able to track circular movements of the eye. Using this technology, it becomes possible to change device settings or mimic screen tapping by focusing on the eyes only, rather than requiring manual input from the user. But the technology extends far beyond traditional wearables use cases, as it can also be used for remotely controlling the tv channel or booting up a console.

As one would come to expect, there is a major drawback to this concept for the time being. Tracking eye movement has to be done through a head-mounted camera, combined with a Pupil Labs Pro device. Needless to say, the current iteration of this technology looks rather silly. But once wearables have integrated HD camera capabilities, eye movement can be monitored from one’s wrist.

Bringing Eye-Tracking To Bitcoin Payments

While there are many ethical issues to address when it comes to tracking eye movement for technological purposes, there are interesting opportunities to explore once this concept comes to fruition. As millennials and other consumers are in favor of contactless payments, this same eye-tracking technology could make its way to the financial sector sooner or later.

Bitcoin could stand to benefit from this technology, assuming developers and engineers can come up with proper use cases for the everyday consumer. Being able to manually select a payment method of choice and completing a transaction without interference from the cashier is an area well worth exploring for Bitcoin enthusiasts. However, it will take many years until the necessary research is done in this field of innovation.

What are your thoughts on using eye-tracking for wearables? Can Bitcoin benefit from this technology if it makes it to mainstream consumers? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Wired UK

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Social Pepper

The post The Future Impact of Eye-tracking On Wearables and Bitcoin Payments appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

The Future Impact of Eye-tracking On Wearables and Bitcoin Payments

Led 15

New York Public Transportation Going Contactless Is An Opportunity For Bitcoin

Source: bitcoin

New York Public Transportation Going Contactless Is An Opportunity For Bitcoin

Contactless payments are one of the hottest trends right now when it comes to revamping the financial industry in the near future. However, the payment method is only viable in a limited capacity right now, although more consumers will be able to use contactless payment options in the future. If everything goes according to plan, most of the New York public transportation system will go contactless in two years from now.

Also read: Bitcoinist Giveaway: Win a Free Ticket to TNABC 2016

Contactless Payments In Favor Of Cash

When using public transportation, cash payments are one of the most annoying issues to deal with. While most countries will have other ticketing options available as well, a lot of consumers still rely on cash transactions when buying a ticket. However, cash payments are slowly on the way out in a few different countries around the world, and governments are looking at alternative solutions.

Contactless payments are a big part of the future of finance, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Agency in New York. It is not the first time this new type of payment will be making its way to public transportation solutions in the New York area, as the first experiments with contactless transactions started back in 2006.

Thanks to a partnership between the MTA, MasterCard, and Citi, a pilot program was created to introduce this alternative form of payment to society. After nearly ten years, Governor Cuomo will be accelerating the feasibility and adoption of contactless payments in the area. In a way, this can also be seen as a move by the New York officials to catch up with the city of London, where contactless payments have been used for public transportation

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated:

“The MTA is absolutely vital to the daily functioning of New York City, but for too long it has failed to meet the region’s growing size and strength. This is about doing more than just repair and maintain – this is thinking bigger and better and building the 21st-century transit system New Yorkers deserve.”

If all goes to plan, both the subway and bus industry will be using contactless payments from 2018 onwards. Commuters will be able to pass through ticket gates more quickly, as well as board buses without any friction. Plus, an application will be created for users to manage their balance online, rather than relying on physical cards.

A Huge Chance For Bitcoin Payments

Contactless payment integration opens up a lot of opportunities for Bitcoin in the near future as well. In fact, companies such as Plutus have come up with a way to allow for Bitcoin transactions wherever NFC payments are accepted. This means Bitcoin users in New York should be able to use digital currency as a payment method for public transportation

Even though New York doesn’t appear to be keen on Bitcoin by any means, it is not unlikely the MTA will integrate digital currency payments themselves in the future. When it comes to places with a lot of tourists every year, Bitcoin payments for public transportation make a lot of sense. Unlike fiat currencies, Bitcoin is a global payment method.

What are your thoughts on contactless payments for public transportation in New York? Should they integrate Bitcoin at some point? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Finextra

Images courtesy of MTA, Shutterstock

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New York Public Transportation Going Contactless Is An Opportunity For Bitcoin