Brisbane-based bitcoin startup Living Room of Satoshi is giving Australian consumers the opportunity to pay bills though BPAY with bitcoin.
During the last financial year, $293 billion worth of payments were made through BPAY and 870,000 BPAY payments occur each day.
Living Room of Satoshi co-founder Daniel Alexiuc says they saw significant opportunity in the space for bill payments with cryptocurrency.
The service is completely free, although the startup can make small profits on bitcoin exchange rate movements. The payments are processed on the same day the bitcoin transaction is completed.
The name is a nod to the pseudonym used by the individual or group of individuals who created the technology that powers bitcoin. With regard to his ‘living room’, there’s also an explanation.
“I guess we imagined that’s where ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, if he was going to pay bills, that’s where he might do it,” Alexiuc says with a laugh
The startup launched in May and has processed $180,000 worth of bill payments since, and is currently processing around 10 bills per day.
“I bought some bitcoin about a year ago, and it was a service I was looking for, so my brother and I came up with a solution,” Alexiuc says.
Offering such a service for free is part of Alexiuc’s plan to help bitcoin grow in Australia. A strong bitcoin ecosystem is required if Living Room of Satoshi is to successfully develop its own bitcoin-based bill payments system.
Alexiuc, who also started an e-commerce business that ships live fish, says they’re currently developing such a system called SatoshiPay, which he hopes will provide an alternative billing option for small businesses.
“It’s surprising how high the fees are for merchants who use BPAY,” he says.
“There’s an opportunity there for a lot of merchants to save money.
“We had a lot of trouble as a small business with payment options. PayPal is the only viable solution, but they’re very difficult to deal with.
“We’re approaching merchants, and also some companies that offer printing services on behalf of billers and aggregated different payment options. It’s still in beta but we’re hoping to get our first merchant online in three months’ time.”
The viability of such a service relies on what decision the Australian Tax Office makes regarding the regulation of cryptocurrencies.
Alexiuc says the worst case scenario is if the ATO decides to treat bitcoin as property.
“If they treat it as property and we have to pay GST on transactions, that would basically kill it in Australia,” he says.
“But we really don’t think that’s very likely. They look pretty favourably on it.”
The startup is being funded by its founders, although they have spoken with venture capital investors.