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Coinbase’s bitcoin wallet revamp aims to ease security worriesBy
Coinbase’s redesign of the bitcoin wallet application adds security features such as touch identification and enhanced pin locking to assuage mobile users’ concerns about mistakes, theft and fraud that have slowed the cryptocurrency’s broader acceptance.
In addition to letting users buy and sell bitcoin in 19 nations, the redesigned version of Coinbase’s mobile apps for iOS and Android let users check their balance, transaction history and transaction details for all accounts and send bitcoin through email or QR code with zero transaction fees. The changes suggest that users must become a lot more comfortable with bitcoin before the currency can win wide acceptance in the marketplace.
“At each step of the redesign, we looked at how we could use the latest features of Android and iOS to provide the best possible user experience,” said Ankur Nandwani, a software engineer at Coinbase. “We also paid special attention to reducing the number of actions a user has to perform to achieve a goal.”
The new security features include support for TouchID, enhanced pin lock functionality and support for 1Password if passwords are stored with that service.
If a device is lost or stolen, the user can revoke the app’s access from coinbase.com.
The app lets users send and request money using a bitcoin address, an email address or a QR code. Coinbase’s 2.1 million wallets can also be used to make in-store purchases where accepted.
As a decentralized digital currency that lets consumers exchange money over the Internet, bitcoin is a person-to-person payment that does not involve banks.
Consumers use the app to generate bitcoins and store them in the digital wallet.
To pay with bitcoin, a consumer opens the bitcoin wallet app, displays the QR code and lets another consumer or retailer scan the code. Bitcoin can also work via NFC technology.
When consumers transfer bitcoin, an electronic signature is added, a miner verifies the transaction, and the transaction is permanently and anonymously stored in the network.
While bitcoin remains a relatively untested payment network, it has the potential to provide benefits for mobile users by streamlining the transaction process and lowering retailers’ transaction costs.
Brands recognize that bitcoin can be a portal to reaching a growing audience whose financial dealings and purchasing increasingly happen in the digital realm, including mobile.
Recent bitcoin adopters include 1800Flowers.com, Time Inc., United Way and eGifter.
Since virtual currencies are not supported by governments or central banks, customer payments can be hacked or targeted by fraudsters.
The experimental currency’s growth reflects how mobile is driving alternative payment systems and challenging retailers to keep up with payments’ evolution.
A portal to mobile audiences?
“Beyond awareness and acceptance by more institutions like banks, each of which are huge hurdles, bitcoin’s challenge is in assuring that transactions are secure,” said Jeff Hasen, founder and CEO of Gotta Mobilize, a marketing consulting firm.
“A headline this week spoke of bitcoin exchange company Bitstamp losing $5 million and having to suspend operations due to a breach.
“People generally don’t take unnecessary risks with their money,” he said. “Coinbase not only has to say that it is secure. It has to prove it.”
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.
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