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Stores can now accept BTC without depending on the customer's internet connection using NFC, but the experience could use some polish.
Bitcoin has a major flaw over lacking in every other kind of currency: it depends on the internet. While the internet is becoming increasingly accessible, it hasn't become instantly accessible everywhere just yet. While off blockchain trades can happen in a closed system, there needs to be a connection to the internet for the transaction to be finalized. This can be a problem for point-of-sale retailers that live in rural areas without the best cell signal.
CoinBlesk doesn't fix that problem entirely, but it does solve a significant part of the equation. Each sale can be made using NFC while only one party is connected to the internet. This doesn't sound like a big deal, but in rural areas where cellular internet is unreliable, stores underground or big box stores with thick walls notorious for killing cell signals, it could be the only way Bitcoin makes sense.
The current build is a little rough around the edges. It displays the currency in BTC or CHF (Swiss Franc) only but it gets the job done. Users simply hold up the back of their phone to another phone or NFC enabled device, and the app takes care of the rest. The money can then instantly be transferred to another Bitcoin account for exchange into fiat.
An integrated exchange would be helpful, but it is still a capable service and removes one more excuse for businesses not yet accepting Bitcoin.
The app is currently available for select Android 4.4 and above devices. Hopefully, the compatibility of the app grows over time, according to Droid-life slightly less than 25 % of all Android devices currently run 4.4 (Kit Kat). While that number is increasing all the time, it would be nice to see the app come grow in compatibility.
You can top it off with your current wallet using a QR code, or one of CoinBlesk's ATMs. As is quickly becoming typical, you can also send BTC via username or email.
During our tests with the wallet, we were able to run its basic functionality, but were unable to test its NFC functions because it is not 100 % compatible with ASOPs OS like Cyanogenmod (which is what this author runs on his Nexus 7). We were able to send money to and from the app, instantly seeing the transaction on the blockchain.
CoinBlesk still have some issues it needs to work out, but it does provide us an early look into one what a Bitcoin powered world might look like.
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