At Railslove we have developed our first Bitcoin application that went into production early this year and if you are following the Bitcoin ecosystem you might have heard of it:
BitPesa is a remittance product based on Bitcoin for Kenyan diaspora.
That means people can send money to there relatives in Kenya using Bitcoin. Because of the digital nature of Bitcoin it is perfect for cross-border transactions that are slow and expensive with existing payment solution.
Read more about BitPesa for example here on CoinDesk
In this post I want to give you a brief introduction on how to write applications that integrate with the Bitcoin network and look into different options.
Using a Payment Service Provider
Like for traditional payment methods there are Payment Service Providers (PSP) for Bitcoin. These companies make it super easy for you to accept Bitcoin payments.
You basically just add a little snippet to your website and you are good to go. For companies that do not want to hold Bitcoins or want to instantly exchange parts of it to fiat currency these service provides settle your account in your currency.
That means you can request your amount in fiat currency, the customer pays in Bitcoin and the service provider transfers fiat currency to your traditional bank account.
There are several companies out there that you can use. Some big players and some smaller ones that often are specialised on local markets:
* Bitpay: probably the most famous Bitcoin PSP. Provides an extensive API and tools to integrate into your application. no transaction fees
* Coinbase: provides a hosted wallet as well as merchant services to accept Bitcoin. No transaction fees for the first 1Mio USD.
* Coinify: provides a Bitcoin exchange and merchant services.
* Yellowpay: a company providing specialized services for the Middle East.
Using a service providing Bitcoin API
The second type of services provide try to make Bitcoin network more accessible for developers.
They focus on providing a secure Bitcoin infrastructure that the developers do not need to care about when integrating Bitcoin features. Restful HTTP APIs are provided to access data like addresses, blocks, transaction, etc.
Besides using a hosted service there are also tools like insight.is or toshi.io that provide similar services but self hosted. They sit behind a full bitcoin core installation and expose a similar HTTP interface to built upon.
* helloblock.io: extensive API for addresses, transactions, blocks, wallets.
* gem.co: currently in private beta
* toshi.io: the newly open sourced ruby application written by Coinbase. It is a full bitcoin node and exposes a HTTP and Websocket API
* insight.is: an open source node.js application by bitpay. Integrates with the bitcoin code RPC interface and exposes a complete HTTP and Websocket API.
Writing your own integration
And then you of course can directly integrate with the Bitcoin network.
Here you can either call the RPC interface of the bitcoin core daemon or fully integrate Bitcoin into your application for example using the bitcoinj library.
This means you manually handle the Bitcoin keys and transactions in your application and you deal with your wallet.
For sure this allows the most exciting application to be built and I highly recommend looking into the bitcoinj library. It makes working with the network pretty easy.
The upcoming v0.12 release will also support hirarchicaly deterministic wallets that will allow easier backups and more security.
* bitcoin core RPC: the core bitcoin application can be run as a daemon and expose a RPC interface to all its functionality
* bitcoinj: the Java library that powers a lot of bitcoin wallets (like the Android Bitcoin wallet). It lets you deeply integrate Bitcoin into your application. Have a look at the examples to get started.
* toshi.io: Toshi is a full Bitcoin node so you not only can use its APIs but also integrate build on top of it and integrate it into your application.
I hope this gives you some overview of how you can build apps for the Bitcoin ecosystem. Let me know you have questions or need help.
From our tour to explore the vibrant East African tech scene in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania we have collected more than 30 hour of video footage and thousands of pictures. Our goal now is to turn this into a movie - a documentary about East African tech hubs and about what we have found visiting some very inspiring places.
Our goal is to to share the information and experiences with the communities in Europe and make more people aware of the fast growing tech scene in East Africa. - Something that I was not aware of prior to the trip.
To achieve this we need your help! It is a lot of work to go through all the material and turn it in a documentary. And we need to hire someone for cutting the material and the post production. For that we are looking to raise 7000 USD.
If you like what we are doing and if you are interested in the movie please head over to our indiegogo campaign and support us. - Did I mention that we have some great perks to say thank you?
Also please consider spreading the word? Know anybody who might be interested, please let them know and share the link to the campaign and our website:
Did I mention we have some awesome perks for you?
Stickers, T-Shirts, Previews, … check them out… ;)
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The first AfricaHackTrip movie is online, directed by Emi!
“African WebMuses” presents portraits of women that the AfricaHackTrip team met during a journey in November 2013. We wanted to show powerful females from the East-African IT industry, working as programmers, teachers, tech events organizers and managers supporting technology development. It was a great pleasure to meet you. Thank you for being an inspiration!
The movie was made by WebMuses and AfricaHackTrip, with financial support of W4 – an organization dedicated to the empowerment of girls and women around the world.
a story about the “Swiss dinars” and Saddam Hussein dinars