When people think of Bitcoin payments, they often think of online payments to Internet-based merchants like Overstock and others. Merchant adoption of Bitcoin has increased in the past few years but there are still obstacles it needs to overcome. One of these is convenience. This is because Bitcoin may work quickly online, but when taken into real-life situations, a credit card swipe is faster than the usual Bitcoin method of using a QR code.
This is where Plutus, a mobile app developer, comes in. Since 2014, the startup has been developing a payment method based around near-field communications (NFC). Many consumers are already familiar with this system. People already take out their NFC-enabled card or smartphone and tap it on any nearby terminal to initiate payments. Plutus takes this a step further by integrating Bitcoin into the equation, enabling users to pay bitcoins even to merchants that do not accept Bitcoin payments.
How it works
The main problem that faces Bitcoin when it tries to mesh into NFC payments is the fact that NFC terminals usually accept only fiat currencies. This is a problem since the goal of using NFC is convenience; a stash of bitcoins can do nothing unless someone accepts it. Plutus aims to change this.
The Plutus app uses the Ethereum blockchain network to facilitate an instant exchange. Users deposit their bitcoins into the app and the network helps connect the deposit with contracts buying bitcoins. This results in the cryptocurrency being converted directly into the local fiat currency. The money is then added to a person’s wallet along with Plutons, the app’s own digital currency. A person can then use their NFC smartphones to pay for items and services via NFC terminals with a simple tap.
The only fees that are placed are for the conversion of bitcoins to fiat currency. This usually subtracts just one to four percent from the transaction. Additionally, every time a person buys using the Plutus app, Plutons are earned. These are digital tokens that can be used to send money to others on the Plutus network, but they can also be converted into cash.
The time is now
Plutus lets Bitcoin enthusiasts overcome the greatest hurdle: acceptance. After all, what use is a currency that people cannot spend? Easy Bitcoin conversion into fiat currency makes things easy for those holding bitcoins in their wallet. Combined with NFC’s tap-and-pay functionality, this would let app users the flexibility to pay in a multitude of shops and services with Bitcoin NFC payments.
The great news is that after two years of alpha development, the Plutus app is about to go into beta this year. Tests have already started with satisfying results as the company behind Plutus has used it to travel all over London, using the Transport for London infrastructure. Plutus has also been tested with NFC terminals at movie theaters and restaurants. With over 32 million NFC terminals worldwide, Bitcoin transactions will see explosive growth once Plutus enters the mainstream.