Bitrefill Let You Top-Up Your Prepaid Mobile Phone With Bitcoinsby Fintechnews Singapore November 20, 2015
Founded in October 2014, Bitrefill lets you top-up your mobile phone credit through a incredibly easy process: you type in the phone number, you select the price plan, and you pay by sending the amount in bitcoins. Top-up happens as soon as the transaction clears, which normally takes within ten minutes. Bitrefill doesn’t charge any additional fee.
“We do exactly what a local 7-Eleven would do in that country,” Sergej Kotliar, Bitrefill CEO and co-founder, told CoinDesk. “They have a terminal integrated with similar types of services, and they handle the store-front and the consumer interaction.”
Bitrefill is connected to a number of third-party service distributors to process transactions. These distributors are in turn connected to various telcos around the world. In Singapore for instance, the service supports major operators including Singtel, M1 and Starhub.
According to Kotliar, the service started as an experiment, “initially underestimating the extent of the prepaid market worldwide.” He told CoinTelegraph:
“In Western Europe and the U.S., prepaid is a niche, whereas worldwide it’s actually the vast majority of cellphone subscriptions.”
For many unbanked populations – which total over two billion people across the globe, according to the World Bank -, prepaid phone balance or mobile money is the only digital form of money these people have, Kotliar said.
Hence, connecting bitcoin to prepaid bills creates lots of interesting possibility, like remittances and payouts.
Moving beyond mobile phone top-ups, Bitrefill has launched in March a new mobile remittance service. The product, a result of an integration with New York-based bitcoin exchange Celery, allows users in the US to send instant mobile airtime remittances to over 100 countries.
Knowledge of bitcoin is not needed on the part of neither the sender nor the recipient, the two companies claimed in a release.
According to Ilya Subkhankulov, CEO of Celery:
“This integration uses all of the benefits of Bitcoin but hides the complexities from the user, we just use Bitcoin as settlement rails.”
The sender connects his or her bank account and chooses the amount to send. The recipient then receives a text message within a few minutes saying the money has been credited to their account.
The integration gives Celery users the ability to top-up their money phone credits using the “Phone Refill” button on the dashboard menu. The equivalent in dollars is withdrawn directly from one’s account, and within minutes, the funds arrive on the recipient’s phone.
Image credit: Bitcoin mobile phone, Shutterstock.com.