The popular Bitcoin wallet app Blockchain received a major update over the weekend with several new features, including improved sending of bitcoins and a map view of merchants that accept the cryptocurrency. The update is centered upon making Bitcoin more accessible, in addition to educating new users about the importance of setting two-step authentication and other security measures.
Blockchain users are now able to send bitcoins to others by simply tapping on a name from their address book. If the recipient is an existing Bitcoin user, with a bitcoin address, then he or she will receive payment directly to his or her wallet. If the person is not setup with Bitcoin, a redemption code will be emailed that can be followed to collect the payment.
“Our Android app has to do with making bitcoin so easy to use that people don’t even have to think about addresses for example,” co-founder and CEO Nicolas Cary told TechCrunch in a phone interview. “That stuff exists in bitcoin, but just like there are complicated things happening in email, they are hidden.”
Cary believes that, while most users see the true value in Bitcoin, actually using cryptocurrency can be a daunting challenge for most. That is why the new version of Blockchain packs several new educational features, with tutorial videos, backup solutions and recommendations for setting a strong password and the aforementioned two-step authentication.
The chief executive also noted that Blockchain is doing research and development to see how transactions could be better handled between users:
Instead, the company could take advantage of its massive user base to switch to NFC or Bluetooth-LE. If two nearby users are using Blockchain’s apps, you could pick the other person’s name in a nearby list. “We’re doing some research and development,” Cary said. It might take a while, but these improvements might be a much-needed simplification of the bitcoin protocol to bring the cryptocurrency to the next ten million people.
Blockchain is free on Google Play for Android 4.0 and higher.