CES 2015: Bitcoin Companies Make a Splash, Despite BitStamp’s $5 Million Hack

Amid the roiling sea of gadgetry at the CES 2015, Bitcoin’s 2,000-square-foot island has attracted a lot of interest from companies and consumers alike, not to mention governments and investors.

The latest and greatest mobile devices, apps and the imagination of innovators were on display at CES 2015 this week. More than 150,000-plus visitors, two-million square feet of exhibits, and more than 3,500 companies were all vying to capture their fair share of the “internet of things” tidal wave.

This year’s CES is highlighting the world’s most popular virtual currency in a 2,000-square-foot island with companies including BitPay, Bitman, Bitstamp, Blockchain, Circle, CoPay, Kraken, Private Internet Access, Robocoin and yBitcoin, collectively representing more than $100 million in venture capital.

“Bitcoin is rapidly redefining financial and commercial paradigms,” says Emily Vaughn, Marketing Manager at BitPay. “The showcase represents some of the top talent in bitcoin technology and will provide a unique experience for the 170,000 CES attendees.”

The product offerings ranged from the systems used to purchase bitcoin and set up a bitcoin exchange account, to online security and mining hardware products. Bitcoiners on the island include BitPay, which highlighted a new version of its CoPay Bitcoin wallet for Windows Mobile.

“This is one of our contributions to the Bitcoin technology,” said BitPay CEO Stephen Pair. “Microsoft’s support has enabled us to make our code available to a new group of developers and companies. We look forward to seeing how Copay evolves.”

ChangeTip was also among a dozen or so Bitcoin companies out to grab a bit of the spotlight at CES. The San Francisco-based startup lured people into opening Bitcoin wallets by sidestepping complex aspects such as private keys and block chains, and simply letting people show appreciation for posts at Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and elsewhere by virtually tossing them a gratuity.

‘Sometimes, you just want to pay a friend back with a cup of coffee, a beer, or a slice of pizza,’ said Victoria Van Eyk, vice president of community at the ChangeTip. “We like the idea of showing appreciation. And, how do you do that in an increasingly cashless society?”

ChangeTip software “bots” listen for mention of the service, an amount and a sender’s Twitter handle in messages at popular media services such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Reddit. It then automatically follows through on expressed interest to send someone a gratuity with a link in a direct message at Twitter.

Links take people to ChangeTip website, where the tip is deposited in the form of Bitcoin in a “wallet” after people open their accounts.

“It is the easiest way to get people into Bitcoin,” Van Eyk maintained while demonstrating ChangeTip.

Cyber security provider, HyprKey, demonstrated its HYPR-3, a 3.2 mm token generator that users stick on their Bluetooth-enabled devices. To make payment through the app, the users have to swipe their fingerprint on the phone and enter a PIN, what ensures three factor authentication.  It allows making payments either using the credit card of the digital currency through NFC or QR-code.

HyprKey CEO George Avetisov said: “As technology increasingly transforms commerce, the payments landscape is poised to benefit from security and efficiencies.”

“HYPR-3 is a technology we expect to gain prominence as a direct result of showcasing its functionality, which includes the ability to spend bitcoin without ever owning bitcoin and the capability of safeguarding user accounts like bankcards behind an impenetrable key.”

“We’re aiming to provide the biometric tokenization protocol to secure all digital currencies and third-party wallets. Consumers should be able to access irreversible digital currency without having to worry about fraud and we believe the Hypr-3 logic is the appropriate method of doing so,” Avetisov added.

The Hypr-3 stickers offer a one-year battery life and shipping is expected to start in June 2015. The tokens can be pre-ordered for $20 on the firm’s website.

Smartwatches, called LAKS, were among the other products showcased at CES. Using a Watch2Pay payment program, the watches enable its users to make payments without the use of a smartphone.

LAKS is currently available in Poland, Serbia, Austria and the Czech Republic. However, VentureBeat is in plans to come to the US and cooperate with a leading credit card company.

“In a collaboration with MasterCard, LAKS owners can make payments from their watch at merchants with contactless sale terminals. MasterCard makes a small card that looks like a SIM card with an NXP secure element baked in, and issues it to the owner of the watch. When an NFC-enabled point of sale terminal recognizes the chip it deducts the purchase amount from the user’s Mastercard account,” VentureBeat described LAKS.

Meantime, BitStamp, which planned to join other companies at CES, announced it has lost more than $5 million or 19,000 BTC and couldn’t appear at the event. The unknown number of wallets were compromised by hackers. BitStamp is now working on improving the security of the service, with the system being suspended.

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