Switzerland’s University of Zurich is integrating a student made bitcoin payments solution into one of its canteens as part of a trial. Press Release issued by university is as follows
“Students developed “CoinBlesk”, a new and mobile Bitcoin payment solution, which can run reliable Bitcoin transactions in less than a second via a NFC (Near Field Communication) communication. The CoinBlesk application can be prepaid with Bitcoins, which can be bought on-site with an ATM and can be used for payment in the canteen.
The project CoinBlesk started with an announcement in the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lecture at the University of Zürich in 2013 that the Communication Systems Group CSG at the Institute of Technology (IfI) wanted to build a system with the goal to pay at the University canteen with Bitcoins. The use-case was determined as follows: (1) the cashier enters the amount to pay, (2) the amount is send to the buyer and shown on his/her SmartPhone’s display, and (3) the buyer can either accept the payment or reject it. This case always assumed that the buyer may not have an Internet connection ready.
Initially, three motivated students approached the CSG and started to work on the predecessor system termed MBPS “Mobile Bitcoin Payment System”. During the development in 2013 it was found out that NFC at that stage was not suitable for a two-way NFC communication. Thus, a prototype was started to enable Bluetooth communication via NFC. Luckily, around November 2013 Google announced HCE (Host Card Emulation) in devices running Android 4.4, allowing for a true two-way NFC communication, which was used in the first MBPS prototype. This application was tested successfully in an early test-run in February 2014, as well with the Mensa in Binzmühlestrasse; but only a very limited number of devices run Android 4.4 at that time! Thus, the team of students and the CSG collected a large pool of experiences from this test-run. In turn, the next steps are straightforward: focusing on (a) improving the NFC payment protocol, (b) improving the user interface, and © placing a new payment app in the AppStore. This resulted in CoinBlesk as of today, designed, prototyped, and tested by the team of students in collaboration with the CSG.
To provide a complete setup for the new test-run started in September 2014, by now, the team from the Institut für Informatik IfI is being supported by sbex.ch, which is providing the BitAccess BTM that allows students to buy or sell bitcoin for cash at any time. This allows students — or any other person equipped with a Smartphone running Android 4.4 and an NFC sensor — to exchange Bitcoins at the building’s opening times. This Bitcoin ATM in the test-run fully automates the exchange of Bitcoins at any time. Thus, CoinBlesk, can be used for payments ar any time at the University canteen, Binzmühlestrasse 14 in Zürich”.
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