GlassPay steps up mobile payments with Google Glass and bitcoin
Credit: Bitcoin image via Shutterstock
Smartphones and tablets aren't the only devices that can process mobile payments. Soon, wearable tech could act as your credit card, too.
RedBottle Design, a Rochester, N.Y.-based software development and Web design shop, recently introduced GlassPay, a Google Glass and Android app that processes mobile payments using the peer-to-peer online currency bitcoin.
GlassPay, which debuted at the DEMO 2013 emerging technologies conference, aims to bring the online buying experience to brick-and-mortar stores that already accept bitcoin mobile payments. The app works by allowing users to create a virtual shopping cart by scanning the barcodes of items they want to buy; users can then purchase the items digitally using bitcoins, eliminating the need to pay at the register.
"With GlassPay, we're taking one of the most basic cultural experiences — the act of purchasing items — and bringing it into the future," said Guy Paddock, CEO of RedBottle Design, LLC, in a statement. "Bitcoins are gaining significant acceptance in the world-wide marketplace, and we know that face-to-face, app-based shopping and purchasing is in the next wave. We're ready for it."
Because GlassPay uses the bitcoin system — which has no central authority or banks and thus charges no additional fees for purchasers or retailers — the app offers several advantages to both customers and retailers.
- No wallet, no waiting: Users can leave their wallets at home and skip the checkout line at the store.
- More control: Because the app creates a virtual shopping cart in real time, it shows users the total cost of their purchases on the spot, allowing them to more effectively budget than they could at the register.
- Security: Only the customer can send bitcoins, and each bitcoin wallet is password protected. Bitcoins are also difficult to lose, steal or misplace, unlike cash. The system also poses no risk of sensitive information being exchanged, unlike with credit cards.
- Higher margins: GlassPay and bitcoins have no transaction fees, so retailers can begin accepting mobile payments at a lower cost.
- Small merchant adoption: Particularly beneficial for smaller stores, street merchants and kiosk vendors, the app lets customers quickly purchase what they need, allowing retailers to serve more customers more quickly.
- Interactive buying experience: Retailers can better engage with consumers using dynamic, entertaining displays that rely on wearable technology.
- Better analytics: Merchants can easily track customer activity, buying history and preferences; with this knowledge, retailers can increase purchasing opportunities via product suggestions and other data.
Much like other self-checkout systems, one disadvantage of GlassPay is the risk of increased shoplifting. As CoinDesk reports, a study by money-saving website Watch My Wallet found that 30 percent of the 5,000 surveyed consumers had stolen items from self-checkout systems. The research also found that 13 percent admitted to being tempted to steal, if not for the fear of getting caught.
According to Paddock, there are several ways for merchants to combat shoplifters when using GlassPay, depending on the type of business. GlassPay also plans to help retailers find customized solutions that fit their sales processes, Paddock said.
GlassPay is expected to hit the Play and Glass Boutique marketplaces in the second quarter of 2014.