Jan 12, 2015 | By Simon

Since it was conceived in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin has had a slow uphill battle due to misunderstandings and lack of support from large retailers.  While the digital payment system seems to make sense in the 21st century, only a select few of the entire global market of consumers have taken to use the form of currency as a day-to-day form of payment.  Despite this, recent advancements have helped push Bitcoin forward as a fast and convenient way of paying for goods and services.

Among other efforts that have been done in recent memory to help push Bitcoin forward is in the form of a 3D printed terminal that has been offered to a group of Hanover, Germany merchants to use within their store.

Conceived of by entrepreneur Ricardo Ferrer, Pey is the result of hours of research and development by group of technologists, industrial designers and developers. The Bitcoin terminal, which is a 3D printed point-of-sale machine similar to existing credit card readers, was developed in part because a large majority of European merchants require cash due to high credit card transaction fees.  Aiming to decrease the need to carry cash but also create a low-cost option for digital transactions, Ferrer’s Pey concept wants to bring the best of both worlds into a seamless experience for both the consumers and the merchants... starting with simplifying the entire Bitcoin transaction process.

Starting with a collection of old Google Nexus 7 phones that he purchased off of eBay, Ferrer and his team began the process of creating the 3D printed Pey system by customizing the Android software to work as a payment processor.  Once their software prototype was complete, the team then focused on the industrial design of the hardware to create a design that merchants were able to punch item info into while also allowing a positive user experience for customers making use of the NFC system to communicate with the terminal with their smartphones.  Once they had developed a User Experience design that worked for both the merchant and the customer, the team used 3D printing as a form of final manufacturing to house the entire Pey system and began production to give to the merchants.  

I believe so many merchants jumped in in such a short time because we are offering them an all-in-one solution,” Ferrer said in a recent interview with CoinTelegraph.  “By Partnering with Bitpay they don't have any volatility risks and through our cheap hardware they can have a device that is always ready to take payments even if they have employees changing shifts all the time.  It’s a way for them to offer an added service, experiment with new technology and generate a couple of new customers with very little effort and risk. I also believe the personal contact with us is important. They know that they can call us if any problem arises and they feel that their suggestions are heard and implemented quickly.”

Around the time of their initial launch, Apple had announced Apple Pay; their own worldwide payment system that uses a quick read of an iPhone to process a payment transaction at hundreds of retailers.  Inspired by the ease-of-use of the Apple Pay system, Ferrer decided to include iBeacon devices into the design of the Pey to help speed up the transaction process through push notifications, if pre-approved by a retailer.   

While Pey started out as a side project, it has since turned into a full-blown company with over 50 merchants on board and even more expressing interest thanks to Ferrer’s offer of supplying the machine and provided internet connection for free.  The catch?  Ferrer and his team want to learn from the merchants and see how they can improve upon the design...perhaps one that they will be able to lease or sell in the not-too-distant future.  

Already, the team has been working on a second prototype that is based on a Raspberry Pi instead of the Nexus phone.  The Pi platform will allow for even more options for customizing their terminal software and will also improve upon other details such as their NFC antenna and iBeacon implementation.  The team has also been working on a more polished industrial design for the hardware component.  As for the second iteration being 3D printed, that is still up in the air.  

Currently, Pey offers an iOS app for those curious and is planning to promote Pey more heavily in the Spring of 2015.    


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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