Google May Introduce Bitcoin on New Payment System

John Weru Maina @bitmaina
February 13, 2015 11:00 UTC

Google and Square announced Thursday that they were working on new payment systems that would be able to accept Bitcoin. The move is expected to heat things up in the payments market in general, and with Apple Pay, in particular. Google is currently testing the new payment processing method that will be known as Plaso while Square is working on the hardware terminals.

The Square terminal is in the shape of a tablet that will run the Android system. Currently, Square has a piece of hardware known as the Square Reader that can plug into an iPad. The Square Reader can scan credit cards, and Square had promised in late 2014 that it would add support for end-to-end encryption. The Square Reader is compatible with both iOS and Android.

Google’s move could be a boon to other manufacturers of Android devices. However, the tech giant will need to learn from the mistakes it made with Google Wallet. To date, Google Wallet has so far failed to gain serious traction. It may well be that Plaso will be the needed shot in the arm for Wallet. One of the issues that Plaso will have to wade through carefully is in the use of wireless technology.

Bluetooth and NFC Compared

Current reports indicate that Plaso may opt for Bluetooth as a means of wireless communication. This is in contrast to Apple Pay’s decision to use NFC. Both methods, Bluetooth, and NFC have their pros and cons. NFC would be considered to be more secure than Bluetooth when it comes to its limited range. NFC has a maximum range of 4 cm, meaning that a hacker would have to be really close to have any effect.

NFC’s disadvantage becomes apparent when it comes to privacy. When you use your mobile phone to pay for something in a shop, your purchase information is stored. It is possible for anyone to datamine this information and send you products based on your shopping patterns. A merchant would then be able to sell this information to other parties who would then use it to send you junk mail. Bluetooth offers better protection against such privacy concerns since it requires the same numeric code for two devices wishing to connect.

Bluetooth and NFC Could Be Complementary

However for Bitcoin users, it would appear that both systems, Bluetooth, and NFC would be complementary to each other. This is something that Google Plaso will have to consider when they are done with the new product. NFC could be used to retrieve data, which the customer signs for on the phone. After the customer has authorized it by signing, the transaction would then be sent to the point-of-sale terminal through the use of Bluetooth.

Google is yet to release more information on workings of Plaso. However, it would be great if the company has decided that Bitcoin is an idea whose time has come. It would even be greater for Google if they were to develop a product that can be used for the wider global crypto-currency industry, a feat that would catapult the company to the head of the global payments industry.

Images from Shutterstock.

Last modified: February 13, 2015 11:02 UTC