In a move that’s set to revolutionize how we top up our mobile phone credit and pay for other utilities, Dubai-based bitcoin startup Umbrellab, is grounding up support for its bitcoin utility payments service Piiko to allow just anyone pay for their utilities via bitcoins.
Piiko’s prepaid mobile services are live in over 100 countries and work so simply. By just entering one’s mobile number to its website. One can choose the amount of airtime they want to buy. Then one checks if their carrier is supported. I was curious and tried it with a Safaricom number and it worked. Now I can recharge my mobile credit with bitcoins. And to my suprise, it’s live in South Africa, Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and several other countries in Africa.Umbrellab was founded by Tarik Kaddoumi and Sergey Yusupov told Coin Desk that there was need to allow users to pay their mobile credit using bitcoin and they now plan to extend PayTV firms, ISPs, and other utility payments such as water and electricity. This will def take bitcoin mainstream.
With agreements with over 100 mobile service providers, Piiko looks to be a revolutionery mobile top-up service with a growing reddit community.On the site, the founders said, “We make immediately available mobile top up in 100+ countries around the world. United States, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia etc. Of course we don’t have all the operators even in countries we support, but major mobile networks are there.”
So Safaricom Kenya is supported so is Bharti Airtel Kenya but we are not yet to confirm the type of arrangement the firms have. We believe most of prepaid plans in Africa are getting on board. At the moment, the service is free in some countries and charged in some others but it also varies from country to country and from one mobile operator to another.
“In some countries fees may be quite high, because we don’t have direct relationship with mobile operators, but connected through 3rd party companies or even chain of companies, who also take their part,” the founders said.
Users can easily find out if their mobile operators are suported by entering their mobile numbers into the form on the site and if their number is supported, a list of denominations will be shown with two values each-Price in USD/BTC they need to pay and the amount they get in their local currency. They are also calling for telcos who are interested in working with them to email to [email protected] for a direct integration with the cariers which will help the firm keep rates as low as possible.
The service takes as short as 10-15 minutes for most payments while for Coinbase users it takes less than 1 minute, because Piiko receives its payment off-chain and process immediately.Here is Piiko’s list of supported countries in Africa include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe