UK-based drug dealers earned more money each selling their wares online than those in any other country. The total sum is $2.2 million, which admittedly isn’t going to make much of a difference to our lacklustre GDP figures, but it’s one sector of the economy that ranks ahead of our global neighbours. Since the closure of the online drug marketplace the Silk Road in 2013, a slew of others have sprung up and business is booming. These markets use bitcoin, thanks to its perceived anonymity, as well the security it offers to merchants (there are no chargebacks with bitcoin). The irony? Bitcoin isn’t anonymous at all. A second irony: mainstream and legitimate businesses are far more cautious about their financial privacy than your average drug dealer, and have good reason for it.
Free Blockchain Point Of Sale systems like BlockPay are created to supercharge merchant sales and expansion into digital currencies – also recognising that private transactions have to be a part of any credible business approach. The complementary Echo wallet combines frictionless payments with secure communications and anonymous transfers, sidestepping a major hurdle in blockchain adoption for businesses.
Not suitable for business
Bitcoin’s transparent and immutable ledger is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it allows for clarity and accountability – a fantastic tool for fighting fraud and corruption. On the other, it’s a problem for many would-be users, corporate or otherwise. Every transaction can be traced from one address to another, right back to its original account. Accidentally leak a little information about one of those addresses and you can reveal information a string of people in the supply chain. There are now companies specialising in just this kind of analysis, where bitcoin is used to facilitate organised crime. For criminals and legitimate businesses alike, the blockchain’s transparency could pose a real problem.
The reason isn’t hard to understand. If you can figure out where the money is going, you can gain a major competitive edge over a company. Who their suppliers are and how much they are paying them, who they consult with, their customers, employees, management team… it’s the perfect recipe for industrial espionage.
It’s one of the reasons why blockchain tech hasn’t yet caught on in the business world. There are others – security, network effect and volatility being three – but this is one of the numerous bumps along the road to the inevitable mainstream adoption of crypto. So perhaps it’s not surprising that it’s one of the issues that blockchain development company BlockPay are addressing, along with creating more standard point-of-sale merchant tools. They are holding a crowdfund to raise the money required to complete development.
Pay easily, quickly and cheaply
BlockPay’s offering consists of several parts, combined into a free, downloadable Standalone app for merchants, as well as an available BlockPay Integrated system for merchants with existing eCommerce or Point Of Sale systems such as Odoo, SAP, grocery chains, gas stations, vending machines, kiosks and so on. It’s available in 44 languages and counting.
The first element is a multi-currency, multi-asset wallet in the form of the Echo app that allows customers to pay in any one of a dozen or more popular cryptocurrencies – Bitshares’ Smartcoins, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Steem, Dash and more. The second element is that the BlockPay Point Of Sale already works with all existing crypto mobile wallets such as Jaxx, Mycelium, Circle and Dash Wallet. The merchant provides the amount due, and the customer pays either via a QR code or by NFC, simply tapping their phone on the terminal. It’s fast, easy and painless for both sides.
BlockPay enables merchants to accept one or more global digital currencies at Zero Cost, with several added benefits. It’s crypto, so there are no chargebacks, no possibilities of ID theft and it’s faster and safer than cash. Payments are peer-to-peer, so there’s no bank or payment processing company to just reverse them if the customer complains (this is a perennial issue for many online merchants, especially when it is the policy of the payments company to side with the customer by default – many find themselves out of pocket). And, whilst credit card payments might take a couple of days to show up in a merchant account and be subject to monthly and 2-3% fees, digital currencies take just seconds to confirm and be deposited to the merchants secure blockchain account. The network fee is typically 1 to 4 cents and is charged to the customer for the transaction, so this is very encouraging for users of digital currencies as well. Now you can travel anywhere in the world and never worry about which currency you will have to use.
All of this is really just entry level stuff for a technology that wants to compete with existing payments systems, but it’s a mark of how young digital cash is that these kinds of apps – with interfaces slick and simple enough to be as user friendly as a credit card – are only just starting to emerge.
Transact anonymously, talk privately
Then there’s the privacy side of things. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general may have a reputation for anonymity, but it’s more like pseudonymity. The transparency of the blockchain means you can see exactly where money is going: you know the addresses, even if you don’t immediately know who the addresses belong to. But that’s something that can often be gleaned with patience and the right approach, especially if the owners have been careless.
Clearly, that’s unacceptable for most businesses, and most regular users too. Various approaches have arisen to address bitcoin’s transparency in the interests of financial privacy. Several ‘altcoins’ offer anonymity features that, one way or another, aim to obscure transactions to prevent them from being tracked. As yet, none has shown itself to be superior to the competition – and, in fact, we don’t yet know the lengths to which organisations will go to unscramble transactions to gain the information they want. (What proves robust against casual snoopers might be a cinch for the NSA to untangle.)
The Echo wallet combines Bitshares’ “Stealth” crypto transactions with secure voice, video and messaging. Chat and media messages are not only encrypted but can be self-destructing, similar to Snapchat. Christoph Hering, BlockPay Co-founder and CEO, comments about the significance of such an approach. ‘It solves two major problems of our time: Privacy and Financial freedom. First, Echo protects your personal chat, video and voice messages against hackers and censorship. Second, Echo gives you the choice to manage multiple currencies at your fingertips. Transfer takes 3 seconds or less and thanks to modern blockchain technologies Echo users can register their desired username on the blockchain with just a few simple taps.’ Hering is an ideologue who created the app not just for business purposes but because, he says, he sees our free communication and financial privacy being placed increasingly at risk.
Evidently, we’re entering a Brave New World of internet commerce, where the blockchain is leveraged to its fullest to offer a range of benefits including speed, security, cost and privacy. The final irony is that those who pioneered Bitcoin e-commerce on the darkweb don’t seem so interested in these new developments…
For more information on the BlockPay crowdfunding campaign, see here.
Pre-ICO of BlockPay to start August 23rd
The pre-ICO to crowdfund the BlockPay project will begin at noon GMT on 23 August. A larger crowdfunding effort is expected to take place early in 2017. This ICO is organized in co-operation with the decentralized exchange platform OpenLedger, its economic enterprise engine ICOO and the Danish company CCEDK ApS, which specializes in bootstrapping startups.
CCEDK will provide escrow services for the ICO, as well as issuing the asset, distributing the related BLOCKPAY tokens with the immediate option to trade it, providing media coverage, allowing an exit option during the ICO, and an ordering module allowing all interested parties to buy tokens. There are two options for token purchase:
- The ICO page on the BlockPay.ch website and
- The ICO LIVE button on the CCEDK.com website.
It is possible to order and pay for BlockPay tokens directly on both these sites with BTS, BTC, ETH and SBD and as well multiple other currencies, using a ShapeShift-enabled conversion of all other currencies into BTC.
All funds can be monitored at all times on the OpenLedger dedicated escrow account ico.blockpay and all BTC in this address are held in a multi-sig escrow account only to be accessed at the end of the ICO.
The ICO will end once the 5,000,000 BlockPay tokens set aside for crowdfund have been sold.
OpenLedger is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency platform acting as the host, framework and toolkit for constant innovation, designed for high-speed transactions, allowing users to trade assets in near-real time, securely and with ultra-low fees. OpenLedger is built on top of the MIT-licensed Graphene technology of BitShares 2.0 and acts as the foundation for the Decentralized Conglomerate: an ecosystem of interlinked and mutually-supporting companies. It is also known as the DEX – The Decentralized Exchange
CCEDK is the operational brain of the Decentralized Conglomerate (DC), providing a comprehensive solution for bootstrapping start-up services worldwide. CCEDK offers an all-in-one campaign and crowdfunding kit for start-ups, whatever their needs – including escrow services, fiat gateway, asset issuing, distribution, integration, marketing, pre-launch preparation and ICO.