Bitpay outlined on Monday what is likely to become a revolutionary boost to Bitcoin’s mainstream appeal – and its merchants are already using it.
Originally outlined by Bitcoin Foundation’s Gavin Andreesen last year, the Bitcoin Payment Protocol (BPP), also known as BIP 0070, is an interface for Bitcoin transactions designed to make transactions between customers and merchants simpler to understand.
While the technology involved would hardly send shockwaves through the technical community, its improvements for the transaction experience cannot be underestimated.
“To the end user, Payment Protocol abstracts away some of the more complicated aspects of Bitcoin,” Bitpay explains in a blog post. It is these ‘complicated’ aspects which stand the greatest chance of putting off already wary end consumers, and BPP successfully eradicates the need to deal with components such as Bitcoin addresses, “while providing a number of additional benefits such as proof-of-payment and refund addresses.”
The end effect for the consumer is thus a payment experience broadly similar to existing online transactions, which by and large also operate under a simplified user interface.
There are also improvements brought to merchants, however. Bitpay explains:
“The main advantage is that the Payment Protocol makes the payment process much faster: instead of having to monitor the blockchain for new transactions, the transaction is sent directly to the merchant’s server.”
Bitpay also says that this will also benefit customers who will not need to wait as long to have payments confirmed.
Bridging the gap
The most striking differences when it comes to using BPP-enabled infrastructure, however, are visual ones. The merchant’s public key is replaced simply by its name; secure payments are highlighted green which mirrors secure Internet transactions.
The system also caters for personalization of various fields, allowing merchants to design bespoke confirmation messages to mimic their style or provide customers with additional information. For customers, this can take the form of a summary of items ordered, which produces an effect of Bitcoin being simply integrated into a ‘regular’ payment setup.
Personalization is only the first step in a greater plan of expandability, however, and Bitpay is keen to point out the protocol’s potential. BItpay says:
“The Payment Protocol is designed to be extensible, and there are already a lot of ideas for cool features that can be added on top of it.”
Bipay cites such examples as Bluetooth mobile payments which do not require an Internet connection, as well as subscriptions, tipping and “automatic payments for authorized merchants up to a defined limit.”
This latter concept would allow customers to go beyond contactless payment and pay “without even pulling the phone from your pocket,” according to Bitpay.
In BPP, the Bitcoin community has at its disposal not only a powerful outreach tool, but one which allows users to experience increased convenience without the proviso of learning about new concepts of money. And since the tool is standard for all merchants who use Bitpay to process transactions, its benefits cannot remain out of the mainstream for long.
Customers will require a wallet which supports BPP for the meantime, which is currently available with the offerings from Hive among others.