BitCoin, the digital currency that has recently become a hot topic in the digital space, has taken numerous steps forward lately in cementing itself as a legitimate worldwide form of payment. Last month, the city’s own Chicago Sun-Times announced it would begin testing a BitCoin/Twitter paywall on its website. Overstock.com jumped on the BitCoin bandwagon long ago, Newsweek just announced it would begin accepting the digital currency this past weekend, and there are already businesses from dentists to public universities accepting BitCoin as a form of payment.
As I was doing some research this last weekend on BitCoin (because that’s what I do with weekends in the Winter), I came across a story on BitTag, and just had to share.
Created by London-based Rehabstudio’s Samuel Cox, BitTag is essentially a physical price tag that can update itself, automatically, based on the most up-to-the-second valuation of BitCoin. The BitTag hardware shows consumers the name of the product, price in real currency & also the real-time cost in Bitcoin. The price updates as soon as the value of the cryptocurrency changes — so customers and retailers have the precise value of each tagged item.
BitTag, and the inventory associated with it, would be managed through an iPad app. To purchase an item through BitTag, one would shake the tag itself, revealing a QR code, which can then be used to pay for the product by either local currency or BitCoin itself.
Although not expressly mentioned on the BitTag website, I could see this being used for another purpose as well– namely, to update currency conversion rates in cities with a high rate of international visitors. Why exchange your money for a premium at a bank, when you could just pay for items in your own currency, anywhere?
The major downside of accepting BitCoin for retailers, of course, is the unpredictability of the currency’s value. The volatile market means that BitCoin fluctuates constantly, which could end up costing business owners, or consumers, depending on price changes.
Still, BitTag is an interesting product, one that needed to come eventually if BitCoin is to one day be a standard currency offline. Time will tell if, and when, that day may come.