Japanese to pay utility bills using bitcoin
Mon 26 Sep 2016
Japanese citizens will soon be able to pay their utility bills using bitcoin. The facility is being provided by Coincheck Denki, a new service offered by the Japanese bitcoin company, which will be available to users in November.
Coincheck outlined the new plan on its website. Also called ‘Coincheck Electricity’, it will allow users to pay their electricity bills directly from their Coincheck bitcoin wallet. It also offers a discount plan for heavy users of electricity, with 4-6% of the total bill discounted for heavy users of electricity who pay in bitcoin.
This is particularly relevant to those who mine their own bitcoins, with recent estimates that bitcoin mining will consume as much energy as the entire country of Denmark within the next few years. A discount, or rebate on energy costs for heavy users of electricity who also pay bills using bitcoin makes this payment plan even more attractive to bitcoin miners who are, as a result, heavy users of electricity.
Coincheck’s parent company, Reju Press, initially partnered with Mitsuwa Inc., to create the bitcoin payment system. Coincheck now works with Mitsuwa subsidiary E-Net Inc., and has formed a partnership with Marubeni Power Retail Corporation, which operates power plants in 17 locations in central Japan. Marubeni has offices in 66 countries worldwide, although no plans have been announced to take the bitcoin payment option outside of Japan.
While the initial bitcoin payment rollout is for electricity bills, Coincheck plans to expand its offerings to bitcoin payment for ‘life infrastructure’, to include payment of gas, water and mobile phone bills. It may even partner with landlords to allow customers of Coincheck to pay rent using bitcoin.
Kaga Kawabata, the head of Business Development, said that Coincheck has “achieved a major milestone for Bitcoin.” By partnering with utility companies to offer bitcoin payment as an option to customers, Coincheck Denki may help move the digital currency toward mainstream acceptance.
The bitcoin payment plan will be rolled out in Chubu, Kanto (including Tokyo) and Kansai regions to start, with additional areas to be added sequentially. The company hopes to offer bitcoin payment options to one million electric customers within the first year.