Bitcoin, the virtual currency that approximates cash on the internet, has been around for five years now, and its popularity has soared. But although its reach has spread beyond the initial circle of very technical, very insider-y circle of cryptographers and programmers, its audience is still largely restricted to people who are at least a little bit nerdy. Ask any Bitcoin enthusiast what's the biggest obstacle to the currency becoming mainstream, and they'll tell you the same thing: it's hard to use.

BitPay, a major Bitcoin payments processor, just launched a project that will help do just that. The company has released Bitcore, an open source Javascript library that will make it easier for developers to build apps and tools for Bitcoin. This lowers the barrier to entry for developers, meaning that programmers who specialize in usability, in addition to the hardcore techies, can now more easily build on top of Bitcoin. It also opens the playing field up beyond the proprietary APIs that many developers are forced to rely on and allows developers to interface directly with the Bitcoin network.

Programmers who specialize in usability, in addition to the hardcore techies, can now more easily build on top of Bitcoin

Greater access and more powerful tools for developers means we'll see more apps designed to make Bitcoin useful to the average person. The move is especially benevolent because the library could potentially be used to build a competitor to BitPay, which facilitates Bitcoin acceptance for merchants.

"Developers starting with Bitcore will have to spend less time working on the low level protocol details and can focus on building more user friendly tools and services," BitPay CTO Stephen Pair tells The Verge in an email. "We hope that this will result in easier to use and more secure Bitcoin software for the average person."