March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Bitcoin users can now buy merchandise from Lord & Taylor department stores using a mobile software application, the latest step by startups to make the virtual currency useful in the physical world.
The mobile app, Pounce, lets shoppers make purchases by using their phones to scan images in print advertisements. The software, made by an Israeli startup, now works with Coinbase Inc.’s digital Bitcoin wallet, the companies said today. Pounce has had a partnership for print-ad shopping with Hudson’s Bay Co., Lord & Taylor’s parent company, since January.
Coinbase and others are seeking to connect Bitcoin with real-world commerce to help establish the virtual currency as a viable way to pay for goods. Revel Systems Inc., a San Francisco maker of payment terminals, said last month it’s adding a Bitcoin button to its system, potentially letting shoppers at supermarkets, pizza places and thrift stores use the currency. Coinbase announced a payment deal with online retailer Overstock.com Inc. earlier this year.
Getting a way to shop at Lord & Taylor with Bitcoins “has the potential to bring more legitimacy to the currency,” said Ugo Egbunike, director of business development at ETF.com, an analysis firm for exchange-traded funds. “This definitely helps boost the Bitcoin economy,” he said.
Bitcoin is the most popular of a group of digital currencies that have no central issuing authority, use a public ledger to log every transactions and employ a network of volunteer computers to process transactions.
The underlying software was created in 2009 by an anonymous person or group, Satoshi Nakamoto, and it has traction with merchants for its lower costs. It also has been used to facilitate illegal transactions, which has drawn the attention of law enforcement worldwide.
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