Crypto-currency bitcoin stands to revive the lacklustre mobile payments industry especially in developed countries where it has been strangled by over-regulation, according to Jon Matonis, executive director of the Bitcoin foundation in his keynote address at Mobile World Congress.
Matonis said that mobile payments had been strangled by trifecta of governments, banks and operators each trying secure a slice of the m-payments pie. A decentralised bitcoin can subvert the powers-that-be, bypassing banks and political borders.
“If I had to describe bitcoin in just three words, I would say it is: Money Without Government,” he said.
“Alternatively, I could say bitcoin is Survivable Digital Scarcity. In just five short years, bitcoin has unequivocally demonstrated that we don’t need kings to coin our money and we don’t need central banks issuing debt-based paper notes and deciding what our money should be. Money is anything we collectively determine it to be.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the fiat emperor has no clothes. The illusion of legal tender has been exposed.”
Matonis explained that banks and clearing houses were not needed in the Bitcoin ecosystem and, importantly for the mobile operators, point-to-point mobile payments via Bitcoin are already happening today on smart phones with QR codes or NFC. It is happening over the mobile networks, or at least WiFi networks. Specialised accounts with operators or dedicated hardware becomes unnecessary.
“An undisputed early advantage will be bestowed upon those that recognize and harness bitcoin’s transformative role in mobile,” he said.
Earlier Visa and Mastercard announced that they would be adopting host card emulation (HCE) for NFC mobile payments. HCE, which has been widely adopted as part of Android 4.4 KitKat, allows a phone to emulate an RFID smart card. This will allow app developers to create new software-based payment apps with innovative use-cases rather than rely on on-SIM, operator-controlled secure