Let’s face it, we all hate paying bills, but the ability to pay them with digital currency might help put a smile on your face.
Earlier this year, CoinDesk reported on the launch of Bylls, a Canada-based service that allows users to pay bills in bitcoin at more than 6,000 organizations, including the government. It was one of the world’s first. Now, new services are popping up around the globe that allow you to pay for everything from basic utilities to taxes in bitcoin.
Like merchant bitcoin payment processors, bill payment services solve the problem of requiring every organization to develop its own bitcoin payment infrastructure. The different systems available have varying degrees of utility, from just a few cooperating payees, to use for everything from credit card bills to taxes.
Living Room of Satoshi, Australia
An Australia-based service called Living Room of Satoshi (LRoS) now promises to pay anyone on that country’s BPAY network in bitcoin for no cost.
BPAY is a universal bill-payment system in Australia that allows people to pay by phone or online by entering two numeric codes. Nearly every major business and organization uses the system, including federal and state governments, and credit card companies.
To use Living Room of Satoshi, users simply enter the BPAY Biller and Reference codes plus the amount, and the site generates a bitcoin address/QR code. BPAY will issue a receipt within 30 minutes.
Co-founder Daniel Alexiuc is a long-time developer and entrepreneur, whose previous venture was an e-commerce company shipping live aquarium fish through the mail.
Experience with paying transaction fees to banks and payment systems as a small business, plus other experience working for banks and payment processors himself, got him interested in bitcoin. He told CoinDesk:
“There are no fees to use LRoS. And we don’t make any money on the exchange rate either. Ideally, Living Room of Satoshi will always be a free service for the users. How is this possible? Because of our plan.”
The plan is to help build the bitcoin economy in Australia, and Alexiuc’s vision is to see a ‘Pay with Bitcoin’ option everywhere, with QR codes printed directly onto physical and digital bills.
Paying bills with bitcoin via BPAY is his way of getting people used to the idea of making such day-to-day payments, and presenting a large user base as a business case to potential companies in future.
Launched in 1997, BPAY was the world’s first “single bill payment service accepted across the banking system”, according to its website. Since 2002 it has also offered BPAY View, which delivers bills electronically to online banking sites, enabling payment directly from accounts.
In financial year 2012-13, BPAY processed A$265bn worth of payments. The average bill payment today is A$785. BPAY also has a ‘third-party service provider’ programme that allows software developers, printing companies, consultants, and other providers to link other services to the network, which is how Living Room of Satoshi was able to plug in bitcoin.
Like Living Room of Satoshi, Singapore-based Quantified also allows access to multiple companies and services, including government, meaning residents may also pay taxes and other governmental fees with bitcoin.
The company, which launched in March, offers a number of bitcoin exchange services of which bill payments is one. One of its founders, Finnish entrepreneur Ville Oehman, describes the service as like using a debit card to pay someone in a foreign currency: they still receive the amount in their local currency and are never aware what was used in the original payment.
Thus, bitcoin is exchanged and transferred to the payee in Singapore dollars. Entering your bill details into Quantified’s online form generates an email with a bitcoin address and QR code, which the user simply pays and then waits for an emailed confirmation once the bill is processed.
Bitcoin values are generated via local exchange itBit’s API. Quantified charges a 2.9% commission on the Singapore dollar (SGD) value of the transaction, and since bitcoin transactions are taxed in Singapore, a 7% of the commission itself is added as Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Launched in December amid the height of bitcoin’s most recent price boom, Argentina-based enBitcoins is the product of former Internet entrepreneurs who are now focusing primarily on the bitcoin space.
Founder Matías Alejo Garcia indicated he was considering a number of opportunities – including ventures into 3D printing and drone delivery – before turning his attention to bitcoin last year. The idea arose from the difficulty the developers had in securing bitcoin in Argentina, but quickly grew in popularity due to its primary consumer use case, said Garcia, adding:
“It was just an experiment, it was something we built in a week or something, and we got a really warm welcome from the bitcoin community in Argentina and they started trusting us with their coins.”
Today, enBitcoins operates with the help of three partners that conduct free bill payment services, and doesn’t see earnings from the offering.
In the future, Garcia says enBitcoins may look to ink deals directly with major utility providers so they can earn as much as traditional bill payment intermediaries. However, such plans are still in the early stages.
Garcia indicates that enBitcoins is still a side project for the team, most of whom joined BitPay when it opened a new headquarters in Argentina at the beginning of 2014.
Pademobile is an international digital wallet service that accepts bitcoin and has localized sites in Spain and Mexico. Its iOS app, called Bills, allows users in Mexico to pay for services with bitcoin like electricity, gas, telephone, cable TV and a number of other services.
Once the money is in the account, users can pay bills for utilities including telephone/Internet, water and electricity.
Users can also use the site to pay bills for landline and mobile phones, Internet service and cable TV, plus power from Metropolitan Electricity, by submitting billing information via an online form and receiving a payment code. There’s even at least one language school on the list. Image via Lisa S. / Shutterstock
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