Airbitz has developed and implemented a method for communicating a bitcoin
URI across Bluetooth (BLE) or any other P2P, mid range, wireless, broadcast
medium. The currently documented implementation is available in our iOS and
Android mobile wallet (updated Android version with BLE coming in about 1
week). We would like to have the BIP pulled into Github for review and
discussion. Here is the current BIP:
Title: P2P Wireless URI transfer
Authors: Thomas Baker <tom’at’airbitz.co>, Paul Puey <paul’at’airbitz.co>
Contributors: Joey Krug <joeykrug’at’gmail.com>
Type: Standards Track
Table of Contents
This is a protocol for peer-to-peer wireless transfer of a URI request
using an open broadcast or advertisement channel such as Bluetooth,
Bluetooth Low Energy, or WiFi Direct.
There are disadvantages for a merchant (requester) and customer (sender) to
exchange a URI request using QR codes that can be eliminated by using
wireless broadcast or advertisements.
Current QR code scan method to transfer a request URI from merchant
(Requester) to customer (Sender) is cumbersome. A usual scenario is a
merchant with a POS terminal for order entry and a separate tablet for
transacting payments with bitcoin, and a customer with a smartphone. After
the order is entered, the merchant enters payment request information into
the tablet, generates the QR code representing the URI, and presents this
to the customer. The customer prepares to scan the QR code with their
smartphone by maneuvering the camera to the tablet. The tablet screen must
be relatively clean, point at the customer, and held steady. The smartphone
camera lens must be clean, point at the tablet screen, come into range, and
held steady to focus and wait for a QR scan. Environmental conditions such
as bright outdoor sunlight, indoor spot lights, or significant distance
between QR code and camera can create difficult and cumbersome experiences
Using a wireless local broadcast allows the merchant to just enter the
payment and wait. The tablet and smartphone are not maneuvered to align in
any way. The customer observes broadcast listings, selects the appropriate
one from possible simultaneous broadcasts from other POS stations nearby,
examines the URI request details such as amount, and decides whether to
send funds, initiating a bitcoin network transfer. The merchant and
customer then receive the transaction confirmations and are done with the
sale. Merchant and customer devices are kept private and secured in their
The URI and other broadcast identification (Joe’s Grill #1) only contain
public information. However, a copycat broadcaster acting as MITM might
duplicate the broadcast simultaneously as the merchant, attempting to lure
the customer to send funds to the copycat. That attack is mitigated with
this broadcast method because of the partial address in the broadcast.
Requester generates a bitcoin URI request of variable length, and a limited
descriptive identifier string. Requester then broadcasts the URI’s partial
public address (<paddress>) plus identifier (<id>) over a publicly visible
Sender scans for broadcasts on their device, examines and selects the
desired request by the identifier and partial address. This connects a data
channel to Requester.
Requester sends full URI back over the data channel.
Sender device ensures <paddress> is part of the full URI public address and
checks the full address integrity. Checking the broadcast and full URI
integrity prevents a copycat device within range from copying the partial
address and fooling the customer into sending funds to the copycat instead.
Below is a description of the protocol through Bluetooth Smart (Low Energy).
Requestor Sender - Bitcoin transaction roles
Peripheral Central - Bluetooth GAP definitions
1 |------------->| - Requestor Advertises partial bitcoin: URI +
| ... |
2 |<-------------| - Subscribe then send sender's Name, requesting
3 |------------->| - ACK
4 |<-------------| - request Read Characteristic from peripheral
5 |------------->| - Sender receives full bitcoin: URI
Peripheral advertises over a service UUID a BLE extended advertisement
with a Scan Response containing the partial address of a bitcoin URI and a
Name, any plain text. The entire response is limited to 26 characters. The
first 10 make up the first 10 characters of the bitcoin URI public address
where to send bitcoin, and must be present. The remaining characters are
any plain text such as “The Habit 1” or “Starbucks-Reg 1”, more human
readable information. The partial address serves as a check against a
nearby attacker who may try to lure a Sender into sending payment to a
separate wallet by advertising a similar Scan Response but cannot replicate
a public address with the same leading 10 characters and different trailing
When the Central scans the advertisement, it may display the Scan
Response in a human readable listing using the two pieces of information.
If Central chooses this advertisement to receive the full request, it then
subscribes to the service and writes the characteristic (a second UUID)
with it’s own name, or a blank if not sending a name, to the Peripheral.
Peripheral gets a characteristic write request of the Central’s name,
and acknowledges the receipt by sending a server response.
Central receives a characteristic write (from the response) and
immediately requests the entire bitcoin URI by issuing a read request on
Peripheral receives the read request and sends the entire bitcoin URI
over that characteristic up to 512 bytes.
This ends the proposed specification as the bitcoin URI transfer is
complete. The Sender would then normally confirm the request and decide
whether to initiate the fund transfer.
There are no prior BIPs covering this.
Airbitz iOS Bluetooth Low Energy to Bluetooth Low Energy request transfer.
*Paul Puey* CEO / Co-Founder, Airbitz Inc
+1-619-850-8624 | http://airbitz.co | San Diego
*DOWNLOAD THE AIRBITZ WALLET:*
Dive into the World of Parallel Programming. The Go Parallel Website,
sponsored by Intel and developed in partnership with Slashdot Media, is your
hub for all things parallel software development, from weekly thought
leadership blogs to news, videos, case studies, tutorials and more. Take a
look and join the conversation now. http://goparallel.sourceforge.net/
Bitcoin-development mailing list