New mobile payments start-up Bitholla, which allows peer-to-peer payments in digital currencies from any mobile wallet of the user’s choosing, has arrived. Now users can make payments not only in a retail environment but also to settle between friends and colleagues over things such as lunch or rent.
Founded by Adrian Pollard, Alireza Beikverdi, Ben McDonald, Mohammad Bahaealdin, and Paul Bugge, Bitholla offers a new mobile app that resembles a social media platform that centers around payments between users and enables P2P payments via any mobile wallet worldwide.
The Bitholla app personalizes payments by replacing bitcoin addresses with social media profiles. People can share their bitcoin address to send and receive money from other users in the network. There is no need to ask and scan QR Codes, which makes the payment process much more fluid and streamlined. Moreover, users can also make use of geolocation to find new contacts based on physical proximity.
The project aims to become the final required element to ensure easy and on-the-go payments without compromising Bitcoin’s essential security principles.
Cointelegraph: What is Bitholla and how did it start?
Paul Bugge: Bitholla is a social networking platform specializing in mobile payments. This project began to take shape about a year ago at what is now known as Seoul Bitcoin, a meetup based in Seoul South Korea. Basically the other members and I met there, and started getting more and more involved with the meetup. We started hanging out a lot and we were using bitcoin very frequently to settle tabs among ourselves but were dissatisfied with the way payments had to take place, either by scanning a QR Code that you had to be right next to the person to do or using copy, paste, send payment address, which we thought was sloppy.
CT: So what was your solution?
PB: Well we very quickly came up with the idea that payments need to be as fluid and seamless as possible - otherwise Bitcoin wouldn’t compare favorably to other alternatives to casual users. To have fluid payments, the process needs to be self-contained and not need to procure an address input from outside the application. Our solution was to make an association between a user’s Bitcoin address and his or her social media profile.
CT: How does sending a payment work in Bitholla?
PB: The process is really simple. The first thing you see when you open the app is the user list. People at the top of the list are the ones nearest to you. Select the person you want to pay and press the pay button. Next choose the amount and hit proceed. Bitholla will take you to whichever wallet you are using and the transaction will be there on the wallet with all the details. All you need to do is press send and the wallet will broadcast it to the network.
CT: What other features does Bitholla have?
PB: Bitholla can do a lot of things now. Besides sending payments you can also send payment requests. The person you request will receive a push notification with the amount along with a message if you choose to send one. All that person has to do is press on the notification and he or she will be taken directly to their wallet where they can review the transaction before sending it. You can specify how you want the amount to be displayed, in Bitcoin or in 21 national currencies. This way when you are requesting an amount, you can request for the exact Dollar, Euro, or Korean Won amount.
On the main page you can display the nearby user list, a map, and transaction history page. The map has a lot going on. Depending on what country you are in, you can see venues that accept bitcoin displayed around your area. Bitcoin ATMs are also displayed as well. Zooming further out you can also see all Bitcoin meetup locations around the world that are scheduled to meet. You can tap on them to get further information and RSVP as well.
The latest feature we’ve implemented is 1 to 1 chat. There is also an upcoming feature for sharing and splitting bills that we plan on releasing in the near future.
CT: Are there any plans to introduce your own wallet?
PB: Not for the foreseeable future. I think one of the things that makes us unique is the fact that we don’t have a wallet but allow users to use their own. This actually lends itself to more diversified uses of our platform as it can be configured with standard mobile wallets, or watch-only addresses.