EXCLUSIVE: Bitfluence inventors share their vision for the future of bitcoin

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Two 23 year olds from Washington, D.C, are redefining the way we think about sending and receiving bitcoin. Meet financial analyst Evan Botello and software engineer Travis Hairfield. On March 15, they launched Bitfluence.com, a service that lets users send bitcoin directly to a Twitter username.

Why? Because it’s a lot easier than dealing with bitcoin addresses. “Wallet addresses used to exchange bitcoin immediately struck me as something that would never really be used by the average individual,” Botello says. “In fact, they reminded me of IP addresses. Just imagine if the average user had to access google by going to 74.125.228.233 instead of Google.com! The base layers are there, but more user-friendly application layers are missing. Bitfluence is our attempt to help solve this void.”

Bitcoin sent via Bitfluence currently ends up in a Coinbase account, but the duo plans to add support for other wallets soon.

“The beauty of Bitcoin is that we now have a new freedom: we can choose a bank like Coinbase, or we can take the radical choice of being our own bank,” Hairfield says. “This will naturally lead to a great fragmentation of banks and services, and we hope to be a connecting tendon between them all. We envision Bitfluence being the place you go to pay your friends, regardless of where the two of you actually store that money, be that Coinbase, Blockchain.info, Electrum, Bitcoin-Qt, etc, and regardless of where you live. We would also love to see Bitfluence used as a way for organizations with a public mission to raise money on a global scale. There are many parts of this world that don’t have access to modern banking systems, and we’re excited about a future where anyone with Internet can have access to needed capital. I think bitcoin can be a really positive agent of change in those regions.”

Setting up an account took me about 20 seconds and required two steps: 1) Signing into Bitfluence with my Twitter account; and 2) Linking my Twitter account with my Coinbase account. You can view my bitfluence account here: removed.

An example of a Bitfluence account.

Botello and Hairfield have submitted their site to Coinbase’s Bithack, a contest “for all developers who want to create something great with bitcoin.” The first place winners will walk away with $10,000 in bitcoin.

With several recent high-profile bitcoin thefts, security concerns have been foremost on the creators’ minds. “Real people have lost real money,” Hairfield says. “We knew when we started that we would need to invest a lot of time and effort into security, so that our users would never need to worry about that happening to them. For us, the key to solving this was utilizing Coinbase’ API so that we could provide the functionality we wanted without ever needing to hold funds ourselves or even request withdraw authorization. As we further expand, the challenge is to find other web wallets that provide such a strong API.”

They’ve been eyeing multi-signature bitcoin transactions and stealth bitcoin addresses very closely as they seek out ways to expand their service. Once they incorporate stealth addresses, they should be able to offer Bitfluence accounts that don’t entrust private keys to third parties like Coinbase.

It’s clear that Botello and Hairfield realize they need to continually evolve their service if they want to stay relevant. They’re openly soliciting feedback from the community, and they’re convinced that no matter what changes lie ahead, bitcoin is here to stay.

I asked Botello if our grandchildren will know what bitcoin is. “I don’t know if the technology will still go by the name ‘bitcoin,’” he said, “but yes I believe they will. However, I think it will just be a part of daily life so they’ll probably take it for granted, just as most modern children enjoy TCP/IP everyday but don’t have a clue what it means.”

No matter how successful it is in the long-run, Bitfluence is a step closer to that reality. Check it out today. Botello and Hairfield are planning “a little surprise” for their 1,000th registered user. That just might be you.

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