Real-Time Bitcoin Price Tag Hits the High Street

Pete Rizzo
Feb 4, 2014 at 15:32 UTC
Updated Feb 5, 2014 at 11:56 UTC

For most brick-and-mortar bitcoin merchants, collecting payments is as simple as selecting a processor and advertising to the bitcoin community.

Pain points still persist though, most notably when it comes to converting fiat prices to bitcoin prices.

As our Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) illustrates daily, it’s not the kind of task you want to handle with a chalkboard.

That’s where BitTag aims to provide support. The brainchild of London-based hardware prototype designer Samuel Cox, BitTag attempts to solve this existing bitcoin pricing issue by automatically updating the price of bitcoin on its display using wireless technology.

Cox announced the launch of the project on 30th January via Twitter.

The release marks the first time that a device has been dedicated to in-store bitcoin pricing, and could improve on the paper QR codes favoured by many merchants in the established ecosystem.

“If the bitcoin value suddenly fluctuates, the price on BitTag will instantly reflect this. The customer, therefore, instantly knows how much the item is worth, whilst the retailer does not incur any financial loss if the value of the bitcoin changes,” the company’s website reads.

To assist customers further, the price can be displayed in BTC as well as local currencies. In addition, buying is straightforward: to make a purchase, customers simply shake the BitTag.

This motion will enable a QR code to display on the screen, which can then be scanned with the customer’s smartphone app.

Design

Like an increasing amount of in-store merchant tools, BitTags rely on Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology, which allows devices to wirelessly communicate.

BLE is perhaps most notably a major component of Apple’s iBeacon device, a relatively new release that allows merchants to send push notifications and custom deals to in-store shoppers.

The BitTag also features a microprocessor, OLED display and a rechargeable LiPo battery. However, no details were given on how long a BitTag can operate between charges.

In-store management

Merchants manage their BitTags through an accompanying iPad app. The app is used to set up the BitTags, and can process transactions when the device is placed against its screen, as shown below.

bittag, merchant

The BitTag prototype costs £40, though Cox has stated that the product’s final price will be “far less than that”.

This means, for now at least, the tag’s appeal may be limited. Cox acknowledged this point in an interview with BBC news, saying that the product is more likely to appear in “quirky” shops than mainstream outlets.

Interested merchants can order through the company’s website here.

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