Coinplug, the South Korean bitcoin exchange and merchant software developer, has released three apps for Android devices that include a bitcoin wallet, a trading app, and a POS system for merchants. They are the first mobile bitcoin apps available in Korean.
The company’s website also now features a map to find merchants accepting bitcoin and using its POS software. Maps will be updated daily to include any new businesses, which Coinplug also supplies with Korean-language ‘bitcoin accepted here’ window signs.
Coinplug has developed its own native payment processing software, currently deployed by a majority of Korea’s bitcoin-accepting businesses. Promising “financial institution-level security”, it allows merchants to transact without using payment processors.
The wider-known Coinmap.org shows at least 12 businesses in the Seoul-Incheon area alone that accept bitcoin, and it is an eclectic mix ranging from cafes and cocktail bars to medical clinics and beauty salons (one of which also offers wedding consulting).
Coinplug’s user map (the far-right link on the blue title bar) offers a different selection of businesses to Coinmap, covering a wider geographic area and showing only those using Coinplug’s software – but which still looks quite impressive.
Coinplug’s app is Android-only and available in the international Google Play store. Rival iOS’s bitcoin-phobia is much less of an issue in South Korea, where Android has a 93% share of the smartphone market and Apple just 5.1%. This is due partly to local manufacturer Samsung’s home-ground advantage, and a lack of company-owned Apple stores in South Korea.
South Korea’s bitcoin community is growing steadily. There are at least two native exchanges, Coinplug and Korbit, plus fixed-price exchange Bitcoins.co.kr. Kraken has a Korean office and offers Korean as its only non-English language option.
Coinplug in Korea
Coinplug started in June 2013 and officially launched in December to target the Korean and neighboring Asian markets. In November it received $400,000 in seed funding from Silicon Valley newcomer Silverblue, Inc., half in bitcoin and half in cash, which it used to develop its apps and trading platform.
It has a team of over 17 employees with plenty of mobile experience. Founder and CEO Ryan Uhr also founded mobile location-based services firm Celizion, and was chief technology officer at San Jose wireless company Exio Communications, which Cisco Systems acquired for $165m in 2000.