Introducing the Swiss University-led NFC Payments Project

Swiss doctoral students released an open source tool that relaxes mobile payment process. The mobile payment wallet can still be useful when one user has a patchy Internet connection.

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Introducing the Swiss University-led NFC Payments Project

Swiss doctoral students released an open source tool that relaxes mobile payment process. The mobile payment wallet can still be useful when one user has a patchy Internet connection.

The wallet is called CoinBlesk. The University of Zurich graduates want to deliver mobile payments using two-way Near Field Communication (NFC). Translation? NFC is a much-hyped technology that allows instant communication between two devices if they're within a short range from each other.

Basically, to finalize a transaction, users can pay bitcoins with a tap of their cell phones. The method has been floated and hyped up in the broader electronic payments space. Apple and Google have both looked into the technology.

Besides being a student-led project implemented in a Swiss school “canteen”—or cafeteria—the CoinBlesk wallet stands out because of the two-way solution. Two-way NFC communication is key because it allows payment handling from either party, so only a single user must be connected to the Internet.

It also allows instant transactions, under 1 second, if both parties have installed the software. Yet, the transactions are secure.

But there are some downsides. The wallet is only usable with the help of some slick phone specifications. The smartphone or tablet in question must be at least Android 4.4 and equipped with NFC abilities.

Earlier this week, CoinTelegraph noted that NFC might not be practical, despite all the excitement generated for the addition of the NFC chip to the iPhone 6 roster. NFC-enabled point-of-sale equipment is not cheap investment for merchants. If they don't adopt the technology, or consumers don't care enough to pressure companies, there may not be much of a reason to implement it.

But NFC is a charming idea. People keep coming back to it. Besides the Munich-based two-way project, other Bitcoin startups are toying around with its capabilities. If the tool takes off, Bitcoin could be in a position to do it.


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