Bridgewalker is an app that can “bridge” between dollars and Bitcoins. It is a Bitcoin wallet for Android. Jan Vornberger, who previously worked on Instawallet, developed Bridgewalker to make the Bitcoin payment process a fast mobile experience.
Editor’s note: At the time of writing, while you can install Bridgewalker on your Android device for free, it is only at a beta state and it is not possible to create an account. The beta version is restricted to a “guest mode”, which assigns you a bitcoin wallet (accompanied by QR code) and allows you to scan QR codes to send payments.
“Everything is push-based”, says Vornberger. “Meaning that as soon as a transaction hits the server, it is processed and status updates are pushed to the client. You can best see the result of that with transactions between Bridgewalker users, which appear on the other user’s device within fractions of a second.”
Closed source and server-based, the app is exchange-rate adjusted, meaning that at any given time, your bitcoins will adjust to the amount of US dollars available. This can be useful since most things that people pay for are denominated in fiat currencies. Bitcoin is simply the underlying system for moving money around quickly and cheaply. The idea of “transact in BTC, hold in USD” may in fact be the way for all of us to enjoy faster, lower-cost transactions.
Bridgewalker does have fees of its own because the app has to keep holdings of Bitcoin in order to match deposits. The amount is 0.75 % on each deposit and withdrawal. “I need to open BTC short positions on an exchange equivalent to the amounts being deposited”, says Vornberger. “I currently use Mt. Gox, where my trading fees are 0.6 %. Add in market spread, and I end up at around 1.5 % for a round trip.”
The goal is to lower the fees to something that is ultimately cheaper than using credit cards. “All this talk about paying with Bitcoins being the cheaper alternative is really a little bit disingenuous at this point, in my opinion. Of course, the actual Bitcoin transaction itself is very cheap”, says Vornberger.
Bridgewalker’s long-term plan is to have as low a fee structure as possible, on par with the competition from the financial industry’s standards. Vornberger says he wants to be “competitive with credit cards”; offering people an alternative that could cost people less in the long run.