Belgian mobile carrier Mobile Vikings has started accepting bitcoin payments – claiming it is the first telecom operator to do so.
The company's service is available in Belgium and the Netherlands. Payments can be used to top up credit or to buy new SIM cards and gift vouchers.
A press release from the operator reads:
"With this new method of payment, Mobile Vikings anticipates the demand of its early adopters, who were not only the first to join Mobile Vikings, but were often the first to purchase bitcoins, and now want to cash these virtual coins."
Mobile Vikings have decided to employ the BitPay platform, which has already gained plenty of traction among merchants in the bitcoin economy.
BitPay also helps to eliminate any ambiguities by converting bitcoin using the real time exchange rate. It executes the conversion at the moment of payment, which means exchange rate fluctuations aren't very relevant.
"Just as email and Skype have changed the world of mail delivery and telephony, Bitcoin is a payment system that is simply revolutionary for the monetary world. Everyone is talking about it, but few people know it, let alone use it," said Hans Similon, Chief Viking Evangelist (Yes, that is his real title).
He added: "As innovation is part of the DNA of Mobile Vikings, we are the first telecom company to introduce a payment option with bitcoins worldwide."
"It's the only way, for ourselves and our members, to really get to know this innovative electronic payment option. The proof of the pudding is in the eating!"
Mobile Vikings told CoinDesk that subscribers have enquired about bitcoin, as many of them were early adopters of the digital currency and already have a bitcoin stash.
"We try to listen to our community as much as possible, so that's why we decided to implement it. Mobile Vikings is also known for being innovative and a bit rebellious, so in our eyes there is a perfect match," said Mobile Vikings' chief marketing officer Dorien Aerts.
At the beginning of 2013, Mobile Vikings had more than 160,000 subscribers in Belgium, with next to no marketing, apart from a few interesting guerrilla tactics. The company has a going presence in the Netherlands and Poland, too.