A low-cost US mobile cell service provider is partnering with digital currency merchant gateway GoCoin to provide support for bitcoin, litecoin and dogecoin.
RingPlus, headquartered in Los Angeles, boasts that it is the first wireless carrier based in the US to accept payments in digital currencies. Users can elect to use either of the three digital currencies currently offered to purchase service time, and according to the initial announcement customers will see expanded integration in the future.
GoCoin CEO Steve Beauregard told CoinDesk that enabling consumer choice was at the heart of the new partnership, saying:
"This gives a new level of control and privacy to consumers that want to pay as they go instead of being boxed into a monthly service agreement with penalties for early termination."
RingPlus customers need to first purchase an approved Sprint phone, and then register with the company to begin service. The company's most expensive plan offers unlimited calling, global SMS and 2.5GB of data for $33, and four plans are available for under $10.
Credit card required
Those who want to use digital currency to pay into their cell accounts will have to register normally through RingPlus, a process that requires credit card information. After that, however, users can elect to top up their balances in bitcoin, litecoin or dogecoin.
This initial integration is expected to be expanded. RingPlus customers will be able to use an SMS billing service developed by GoCoin to receive payment notifications and elect to authorize transactions from their account wallets when topping up.
In a 16th July post on the company's official forums, RingPlus CTO Evan McGee clarified that support for new account payments is not yet active but that the feature is being developed, saying:
"Just to restate what might not be obvious - for now, this is just to top-up individual accounts. We're going to allow registering with virtual currencies soon, but that requires a much larger change to how we process information upfront. It'll be along shortly."
RingPlus CEO Karl Seelig remarked that the decision to integrate digital currency acceptance came from enthusiasm and support within the user base, stating:
"We listened to our members who are asking for alternative ways to pay their bill, and are extremely satisfied to be leading the charge - so to speak."
Beauregard echoed Seelig's sentiments, suggesting that the partnership is the first - but probably not the last - usage of digital currency within a major telecom market.
He added: "This deal breaks new ground in the hotly contested wireless services market".
Cell phone user image via Shutterstock