Bitcoin isn't a technological competitor, it's a currency. Bitcoin isn't going to be the last currency of its kind, there will be many Bitcoins just like there are many currencies today. Each one is fit for the group of people that uses the currency. The PaySwarm standard is a financial protocol and is thus currency agnostic. We plan to support Bitcoin, and Ven, and a variety of other currencies.
You could argue that Bitcoin is also a protocol, but that is where Bitcoin is fairly weak. Instead of building Bitcoin on the Web's architecture, it was decided to invent a new protocol. While the new protocol works, it's not very Webby, and because of that there is a great deal of heavy lifting that needs to occur to participate on the Bitcoin network. The PaySwarm work builds on top of the Web (HTTP, HTML, RDFa, JSON, etc.), so the financial protocol lives as a core part of the Web. It also doesn't conflate currency with protocol, so it's capable of supporting more than one currency, including the one that will eventually replace Bitcoin.
Regarding your micropayments statement, you're conflating the value of a currency with the divisibility of the currency. Micropayments support is about divisibility, not value. The only thing to discuss about Bitcoin's micropayments feature has to do with the latter, how divisible it is, which is (8 decimal places) vs. how divisible PaySwarm is (10 decimal places). It's not a very interesting discussion, I admit.
The short answer is that there aren't a lot of people working on the problem. There are 7,000,000,000+ people in the world. There are 60 people in the Web Payments Working Group at W3C, of which only around 10 are actively working on the problem. It's a hard problem and there aren't that many programmers, systems engineers, standards makers, writers, bloggers, lawyers, etc. that are willing to put in the hard work to solve the problem. If you think this is an exception to the rule, you'd be wrong. There are only around 40 people really working on HTML5... and that work reaches over 1.5 billion people.
We've been working on the Web Payments stuff for 7+ years and I've always been kind of floored at how quickly most tech folks backpedal away from creating a truly revolutionary financial system on top of the Web.
If you're interested in lurking or especially helping, please join the Web Payments group... we need every helping hand that's available: http://www.w3.org/community/webpayments/
The PaySwarm specifications allow anybody to implement the specification and interoperate on the network. So, if your country doesn't have a PaySwarm Authority, there is a huge incentive for somebody to launch one in your country.
In our system, anybody (in any country) can become a vendor. At the moment, we only deal in USD, so if you want to withdraw your money, you need a bank that can talk to the US banking system (many international banks can already do this).
The only thing preventing us from branching into your country is a slew of regulations that we have to follow to make sure that we're operating the service legally in your country, using your currency.
So, I think you partially mis-read what we're doing. We only support USD now because we just launched. Eventually, we hope to support all major currencies in the world. If we don't choose to support your currency, somebody else will. Their PaySwarm Authority (the thing that acts like the bank on the network) will allow you to use whatever currency you want to in your country of origin, and it will be up to them if they want to interface with other PaySwarm Authorities around the world.
The bottom line is: The system is designed to make it such that every currency in the world will eventually be supported if there is a profit to be made in doing so.
We are building the technology out in the open, transparently. Anyone can join the group. There are no fees, there are no prerequisites for joining. You can read the minutes from every one of the design meetings, and even listen to the audio here (we record everything): http://payswarm.com/minutes/
Here's an example of one such meeting: https://payswarm.com/minutes/2012-07-10/
Why design the financial system in this way? We need to show people that, unlike the way our current financial system is developed and run (behind closed doors), that we're taking a radically new approach to building the basis of the financial network that we hope all of humanity will use. This financial network is open and decentralized, like the Web.
If this interests you, I urge you to join and lurk (or preferably, participate): http://www.w3.org/community/webpayments/
It could count as an in-app payment and I have no idea if the in-app purchase patent you're talking about applies, nor am I going to go take a look at it:
Our experience in this area, after looking at lots of patents, is that they tend to be badly written and/or easily easily worked around. We did file provisional patents for the technology in 2004 to establish prior art for the express purpose of ensuring that nobody else could patent the technology and that we could offer it patent and royalty-free in a Web standard.
16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling