The traditional bank card is like a ticking time bomb. Today it's no longer a matter of if a card number will be stolen and sold, but when.
In defense, an increasing number of merchants have begun accepting (and people using) cryptocurrencies, which conduct financial transactions that cannot be traced, tracked or hacked. And there's generally no fee, to boot. The granddaddy of cryptos is Bitcoin, and Bitcoin Wallet for Android and for iOS is the easiest way we've seen to get started as a Bitcoin-friendly merchant or consumer.
Bitcoin Wallet is developed by Coinbase, a 2012 San Francisco startup that claims 2.2 million deployments, which it says make it the world's most widely used bitcoin transaction tool. After using Bitcoin Wallet, it's easy to understand why. The tool installs in seconds, and after an equally quick registration and email validation process, we were set up and ready to begin buying or sending bitcoins. The app's main screen displays the user's current bitcoin balance and buttons for requesting and sending bitcoins.
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Bitcoins can be sent via email or with a QR code with no transaction fees to any of the parties. A request for bitcoins links to a numeric keypad for entering an amount, an email address and optional note. Once sent, the amount (in bitcoins) is listed as pending and an email is sent to the wallet owner and the requestee. The tested app defaulted to dollars, but with one tap converts to its bitcoin equivalent using the current exchange rate (assuming a data connection). A settings panel makes quick work of switching to any of about 150 major currencies, setting transaction limits and a PIN, creating new wallets and changing personal information.
Bitcoin with the Coinbase app can be stored in a wallet or a vault. The wallet is a single-user container intended for transactions during the normal course of business. A vault can be used like a wallet to disperse funds, but withdrawals require extra security validation. Also, ownership of vaults can be divided among multiple parties, a subset of which can be designated as transaction approvers. Both containers are provided with the free app. If bitcoin trading is the need, Bitcoin Wallet is a great app for the job.
PUBLISHED JAN. 23, 2015