I have been following bitcoin for a little while now, but this is my first ever post, so excuse me if this is far too obvious or has been discussed endlessly before...
I am totally passionate about bitcoin for the many reasons that have been expressed countless times on these forums (decentralised, avoiding the nasty banks, border-less transactions, speed, etc) and really hope that it will succeed.
However, your average consumer or merchant could not really give a damn. They just want to see their money leave point A and arrive at point B, with little to no fuss. In my opinion, I see the initial widespread use of bitcoin as a way of moving traditional currency. If we ignore speculators, I don't think there will be many people who will empty their bank accounts and store bitcoin instead.
So I think that the average consumer/merchant needs a service, X, that fulfils these requirements:
- A centralised authority that the customer can trust
- secure bitcoin storage
- an instant top-up facility (via direct-debit/credit card)
- a withdraw facility to bank accounts to local currency
- easy sending of bitcoins facility - web interface - mobile apps - near-field comms - etc
- SDK for acting as a merchant - website buttons - shopping cart etc
(i.e. this sounds a lot like a bitcoin bank or a Paypal equivalent!)
So in fact, they do not even need to be aware that bitcoins exist. The service ultimately provides a means for moving a quantity of USD/GBP/EURO... from one place to another.
The attraction for the average Joe is that *because of bitcoin* it can do this far more competitively, than a system based on Paypal/Google checkout/ credit-card merchant accounts:
- Fast transactions to anywhere in the world
- At a fraction of the cost of existing solutions
- Much more friendly for micro-payments - Mobile App Store payments? etc
- usual arguments against the use of credit cards (identity fraud/etc)
Since there are incentives to trade over a bitcoin based mechanism, more and more merchants would be likely to start accepting it, and they could even encourage customers to pay with bitcoin instead of alternatives. All this and the inherent benefits (anonymity/<risk of identity theft/...) of buying with bitcoin could increase the adoption by consumers.
I especially think bitcoin is well suited to micropayments, such as for things like buying an Android App for $0.49 etc!
In terms of existing solutions, I have had a quick look at bit-pay.com which seems to be on the right track, although it seems to be just focused on the merchant. I am also not too keen on the website, and the cheesy video – it seems to be trying to sell bitcoin too hard!
I am also aware about mybitcoin but it seems to have lost the trust of its users.http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=5187.0
is also a cool idea.
So forgive me if my desired service already exists, or is in the process of being built, I would be delighted to be informed about it ... if not, who wants to help build it!?