UPDATE (5th Feb, 0:45 GMT): CoinJar has clarified that only the iOS version of its new app is available today.
Anglo-Australian bitcoin exchange CoinJar has released a new mobile app, now called 'CoinJar Touch', saying new user-friendly features will speed up bitcoin payments and attract new users to digital currency.
CoinJar's Samuel Tate said the new app is in response to user requests for transfer in and out of bitcoin on its exchange "on-the-go", and to manage their payments and contacts lists with greater ease.
Users can send instantaneous payments to other CoinJar accounts by using Twitter-style user names instead of bitcoin addresses. CoinJar says it will also pay miners' fees for payments to addresses outside its own system, speeding up regular payments as well.
The system also allows for CoinJar users to make payments and transfers between fiat currency balances (AUD and GBP). They can pay anyone in bitcoin directly from a fiat currency balance, at the company's posted exchange rate and a 2% fee.
CoinJar has offered a fixed-price bitcoin brokerage and merchant services since its foundation in Melbourne in 2013. It recently opened a new headquarters in London and began serving the UK market as well as Australian.
Focus on design
The new app has been completely redesigned from CoinJar's original offering, with a slick and responsive interface that looks more like a social network page than an electronic wallet.
The aim is to compete not only with other electronic payment systems, but with the physical wallet as well, said Tate.
"We're trying to get as many people as possible using bitcoin through CoinJar, not just getting existing bitcoin users, so we needed to humanise payments for all the consumers who don't have a clue what bitcoin is."
CoinJar paid a "huge amount of attention" to the design and use of the app to make sure it is easy for anyone to use, he added. There was a focus on making it fast, reliable and as easy to understand as paying with a card.
"Any business that isn't driven by an easy and beautiful user experience will falter. In the bitcoin space especially, this is becoming a real differentiator, so wallets built with this in mind are the ones that will take the market share."
Using the app
CoinDesk was able to road-test the app before its release, and can say payments were indeed seamless and quick, especially between CoinJar accounts but also to external parties.
Some aspects of the interface, like locating and displaying the user's own QR code for in-person payments, could probably be made more intuitive. Overall, though, the app is uncomplicated and easy to get used to.
Users of iOS devices with Apple's TouchID feature may use that to log into accounts instead of a PIN.
CoinJar Touch is now available on the iOS App Store.
Image: Jon Southurst