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The UK Goes Lightning: CoinCorner Offers The Bolt Card, Contactless BTC Payments

BTCUSD price chart for 05/20/2022 - TradingView


The future is now.  CoinCorner’s the Bolt Card is a contactless and convenient debit card that lacks a screen. The product points to the next stage in bitcoin evolution, the creation of circular economies powered by the Lightning Network. Is this card the idea that will bridge the gap between bitcoin and the general public?

At the Bitcoin 2022 conference, Jack Mallers announced that Strike will bring Lightning payments to half of the Point-Of-Sale terminals in the US. Excited about the development, we described it as:

“Strike partnered with Blackhawk and NCR to bring bitcoin payments to hundreds of thousands of Point-Of-Sale terminals in everyday businesses across the US. This includes hypermarkets, major stores, and every fast-food chain.”

However, the video that Mallers presented was a demo. The product is not yet ready, much less already deployed. On the other hand, The Bolt Card works already. Certain conditions apply, though, as you’ll learn in the following text.  Is CoinCorner completely lost or on to something? Let’s look at an alternative way of solving the problem.

The Bolt Card by CoinCorner

Coming at us directly from the Isle of Man, CoinCorner describes The Bolt Card as “an offline Lightning contactless card.” And taking a page from the already mentioned Jack Mallers, they describe the bitcoin network as “a global, open, permissionless, decentralized monetary network.”

Leaving modesty aside, CoinCorner CEO Danny Scott declares, “this is real world innovation with real world products that will help real world people in everyday life.” He’s talking about a debit card “attached to your CoinCorner account,” with which users can spend GBP, EUR, or Sats. 

In the video above you can see The Bolt Card in action, and here Scott explains exactly what happened:

“An offline NFC (contactless) card “tapped” the Lightning enabled POS device, which requested the required payment, my @CoinCorner account grabbed my GBP, turned it into BTC and instantly sent BTC over Lightning to the merchant instantly settled.”

BTC price chart for 05/20/2022 on Bitfinex | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com

The Limitations And The Lack Of A Screen

The sales point of the debit card, according to CoinCorner, is that in-person Lightning payments aren’t yet practical. The company believes that those transactions are “still not as efficient and user friendly as we need it to be for the mass audience. We’re still opening our phone, opening an app, scanning a QR code and then making the transaction.” 

Is this really a problem, though? Cell phone-based payment solutions abound, and people seem to be comfortable with them. The QR code model is relatively common and not exclusive to bitcoin Lightning payments. Plus, people love their phones. In any case, apparently, contactless cards are the norm in the UK. So, maybe CoinCorner is on to something.

The limitation of this payment solution is that it needs a CoinCorner Lightning-enabled POS device to work. The company has “devices at around 20 stores live today in the Isle of Man and will be rolling out across the UK and more countries this year,” but still. In any case, CoinCorner promises that its goal is to be interoperable with the Lightning network as a whole, so, “you will soon be able to use your Lightning Bolt Card throughout entire countries.”

The other limitation could be more damming. The lack of a screen means that users can’t verify the transaction’s details on their own device. That means, they would have to trust the merchant not to overcharge them. This is a big problem, considering bitcoin’s unofficial slogan is “don’t trust, verify.” However, no solution is going to be perfect and there are always trade-offs. 

Featured Image: The Bolt Card, screenshot from the video | Charts by TradingView





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