A new Point of Sale (PoS) hardware system for Bitcoin will allow merchants to process cryptocurrency payments offline – without the need for an internet connection.
Jan Vornberger, developer for popular Bitcoin wallet software Hive, recently unveiled a prototype for the new ‘Bitcoin Box’ PoS system. By using a combination of Bluetooth and Near Field Communications (NFC) the Bitcoin box allows customers to send transactions straight to the merchant’s server, even if no internet connection is available. Because the transaction is initially sent directly to the merchant, rather than being broadcast via the Bitcoin network and then picked up by the merchant, the transaction can be safely processed much more quickly than would otherwise be the case. The potential for delays, as well as security concerns over instant (zero confirmation) transactions have so far been a significant barrier to the adoption of Bitcoin by physical bricks and mortar retailers, but Vornberger is confident that offline transactions via dedicated hardware PoS systems will provide a good solution to these issues.
Although the Bitcoin box will eventually work with a wide range of payment processors, it will initially focus on compatibility with Bitpay.
The hardware for the Bitcoin Box is built entirely using widely available ‘off the shelf’ components, with the popular Raspberry Pi board at its heart. This allows for a low cost solution despite the fact that Vornberger expects to start production with only a limited run. The first batch of units is expected to go on sale for somewhere in the region of $299 USD.