People across Canada are now using an online form of currency to participate in the most everyday activities.
The website Bylls.com launched two weeks ago out of the Bitcoin Embassy in Montreal’s accelerator program, to allow users with Bitcoin in their digital wallets to pay everything from cell phone to household bills.
“It’s purely to offer convenience to people who have Bitcoin and just want to settle their bills quickly,” said Eric Spano, CEO of Bylls.
He explained that his startup has an agreement with a third-party payment processor, which gives access to a database of 4,000 different organizations.
“Since most companies don’t accept Bitcoin right now, what we do is we settle the bills through the payment process in Canadian dollars,” said Spano. “The companies are receiving Canadian dollars, but the consumers can pay in Bitcoin.”
While the exchange rates for Bitcoin are extremely volatile, Spano said his venture is able to turn a profit with small service fees that vary depending on the size of the transaction.
Bylls is the first platform of its kind in Canada, he added, and represents an important step in bringing alternative currencies into the mainstream.
The government has already issued guidance for taxes, said Spano, but other regulations remain unclear.
“The goal one day is for merchants and everyone to accept bitcoin,” he said.
One early adopter from Saskatchewan, Jeffrey Cliff, used Bylls to pay his SaskTel phone bill.
A couple days after he sent in his payment, Cliff said he checked the balance on his SaskTel app and “sure enough, it was paid.”
He added that he would like to see more businesses taking a proactive approach to engage the new Internet economy.
“There is a movement worldwide toward a global financial system,” said Cliff.
But it could still be some time before all Canadian establishments start taking notice.
On Jan. 13, Cliff sent a Tweet to SaskTel letting them know how he paid his bill with Bitcoin.
“The more ways our customers have to pay their bill, the better,” the @SaskTelSupport account responded in a now-deleted Tweet.
Director of external communications for SaskTel, Michelle Englot, said the conversation was a misunderstanding, as the Crown corporation has no plans to start accepting bitcoins directly any time soon.
“It’s a complicated process to set up a payment system and we have a lot of options,” said Englot. “We’re not looking for alternatives at this time.”