Australian-based mobile payment company mHITs today launched BitMoby, a service that allows people to use bitcoins to purchase credit for prepaid mobile phone accounts.
The service is not available for Australian users yet because mHITs is not connected to local telco networks. However mHITs CEO Harold Dimple said he plans to bring BitMoby to the country eventually.
BitMoby is currently available in 117 countries.
To use the service, users enter their country and mobile number on the site bitmoby.com. They are then directed to a payment page where credit options from their mobile network/provider will appear for them to select.
A QR code is then displayed, which the user can either scan or copy the address to send bitcoins to the Bitcoin wallet.
A unique Bitcoin wallet address is created for each transaction.
“That way when you pay to the wallet address, we know which mobile number to apply the top-up to,” said Dimple.
Users also provide their email address so that a receipt can be sent to them.
Users can purchase credit for third parties or friends by just entering the other person’s mobile number. There is no ‘account’ registration, so it doesn’t link a user’s account to a specific mobile number.
“Unlike mobile money and international remittance, for mobile top-up, no customer details are necessary which is why Bitcoin is good match,” said Dimple.
Dimple said cryptocurrencies are gaining in popularity and have a place in the future of payments globally. He said the blockchain technology used by Bitcoin provides a "far more efficient" transaction exchange mechanism than current point-to-point and hub systems such as cards, BPAY and SWIFT.
“Notwithstanding regulatory, KYC [know your customer] issues and volatility of the currency itself, Bitcoin does likely have a place in the payments sector,” the CEO said.
“It won’t replace the existing payments systems but can provide a fast and efficient peer-to-peer mechanism for exchanging funds for some categories of transactions.
“It is also a global currency meaning it is not subject to outrageously high FX margin loading by banks when conducting card transactions online via overseas websites.”
“Also, unlike card based products, Bitcoin is not subject to chargebacks which is the major problem for digital content purchases using card products online. What this means is that digital micro-payment transactions online are usually the target of fraud plus are also very costly to process,” he said.
Dimple is currently researching Bitcoin as a possible funding source for cross-border remittance transactions, subject to KYC verification and other regulatory issues.