In South Africa, Bankymoon, a startup that produces digital payment solutions, has launched an application for meter top-up using the digital currency Bitcoin.
Bankymoon’s integration of Bitcoin payments into smart metering systems allows users to 'send' electricity, water and gas to any recipient anywhere in the world to top up their utility meters, reports Bitcoin magazine.
Founded in 2015, the company gives smart meters their own Bitcoin addresses. When a smart meter receives a Bitcoin payment, Bankymoon then calculates the tariff and loads the meter.
Lorien Gamaroff, founder and CEO of Bankymoon speaking at a recent conference in Cape Town, said: “The power of Bitcoin lies in the ability to program functionality to automatically respond to payment transactions.
"Unlike bank accounts, Bitcoin addresses can be monitored by predefined processes which can trigger automated actions. These actions can form part of a workflow, which will only proceed once Bitcoin transaction has been detected.
Mr Gamaroff continued: "Imagine a student abroad who needs to have their meter topped up. They’d phone their parent and ask them to send money. The parent now doesn’t have to remit anything. They can just go and top up the meter using Bitcoin.”
The same model permits donating to needy institutions, for example schools and hospitals, by directly contributing to their utility bills.
Payment solution for world's unbanked population
Gamaroff said the application represents a payment solution for the large unbanked populations in the developing world by bypassing banks and credit cards.
He said: “You’d think that with all the smartness happening in our grid, that the problems are solved. But in fact this brings us to the most difficult and biggest problem of all, which is payments.
"Your grid could be as smart as you like but if all customers aren’t paying, it’s worthless and it becomes unsustainable and will collapse.”
The Johannesburg-based company is also implementing features that would enable people to pay in alternative currencies such as Lightcoin and Dogecoin.