Australian Bus App Drops Bitcoin Following Poor Traction

Canberra's mobile transport app MyBus 2.0 has stopped accepting bitcoin payments following poor traction with the digital currency.

May 11, 2015 at 4:10 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 11:40 a.m. UTC

Canberra's mobile transport app MyBus 2.0 has stopped accepting bitcoin payments following poor traction with the digital currency.

The MyBus 2.0 smartphone app, a timetable and route planner connected to the Australian capital's bus network, removed the bitcoin payment option in January.

Zakaria Bouguettaya, director at QPay, the company behind the application, told the Brisbane Times the app had only processed 23 bitcoin payments in nine months.

During the same period, he said, the number of non-bitcoin transactions amounted to 3,226.

Speaking to CoinDesk, the director spoke of the transport network's incapability to deal with digital top ups, noting how they took up to five business days to clear.

He said:

"Our objective in adding bitcoin was to make a real-world use of the currency. In hindsight, using bitcoin on a system where the transaction takes three to five business days to reflect was a poor choice to highlight what bitcoin is all about."

Having realised the impracticalities of the system, Bouguettaya said that his team tried to find a way of "hacking" the MyWay card, so that consumers could store their bitcoin balance – or wallet address – on it. However, the ACT Government, the local authority running the top-up scheme advised them that proceeding in such a way would be illegal.

"They [the ACT Government] told us that a third party contractor actually owns the cards, meaning they couldn't make changes we suggested without their approval," said the director.

He added: "We spoke to the third party, and they made it quite clear they were not interested."

Bitcoin in Australia

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) suggested it was against regulating digital currencies in April this year.

However, it is not all bad news for bitcoiners in the country. In February, Coin Loft, an Australian exchange, said it had been officially exempt from charing Goods and Services Tax (GST) on local bitcoin sales.

A day later, Webjet became the first Australian online travel agency to accept bitcoin payments following a partnership with Sydney-based bitcoin startup BitPOS, enabling customers to complete digital currency transactions through its Webjet Exclusives website.

ACTION bus image via Wikimedia Commons

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