The bitcoin wallet AirBitz has announced an update to their Android mobile app that enables wireless payments using a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection.  


AirBitz launched their bitcoin wallet in October 2014, when the option of Bluetooth (BLE) payments was only available on iOS. They are the first company in the market using the BLE connection for mobile bitcoin payments, which allows users to send bitcoins via Bluetooth to other Android and iOS devices without scanning QR codes.

AirBitz is not unique in their attempt to avoid scanning QR codes, however. Another cryptocurrency wallet, Hive, uses a feature called `Waggle' to transmit payments using GPS. Airbitz explained why they had rejected this technology:

“We considered solutions like waggle but chose against it as those require a centralized server with knowledge of the transaction and the parties involved. It also limits the ability to be cross-compatible with many independent wallet implementations.”

Now, the startup has added BLE support for Android devices as well. The option of using QR codes is still available with the AirBitz wallet, as well as sending funds via NFC (Near Field Communication), email, or text messages.

AirBitz believes that BLE will facilitate the Bluetooth payment process for wallet users, which is what the startup sees as its mission in the space of bitcoin wallets.

The press release reads:

“The Airbitz core focus on ease of use encouraged the development of Bluetooth payments to eliminate the frustrations of scanning QR codes which can be very challenging in bright lights, in outdoor sun, with cracked screens, or poorly focusing cameras.” 

To transfer funds, the recipient’s wallet sends the first 10 digits of its public address and the name of the user. The sender’s wallet displays the request on the screen and the user needs to tap on it. Both sender and recipient are then taken to a new screen to confirm the amount and finish the transaction.