In South Africa, a Bitcoin solutions company is touting an ‘African metering solution for an African utility problem’.
South Africa-based Bankymoon has launched prepaid blockchain smart meter technology as a solution to electrical utilities struggling to collect revenue and African consumers lacking formal banking facilities.
In an interview with Bitcoinist.Net, Lorien Gamaroff, chief executive officer of Bankymoon, explained that the blockchain technology doesn’t need to be built into the smart meter. “This tech can be used with any smart metering system. I just activate the meters on the blockchain,” says Mr Gamaroff.
The technology works by assigning one or more digital wallet addresses to each meter.
They are then loaded by sending digital currency to the address. When a deposit is made, the customer’s account is credited at the current exchange rate.
Gamaroff explains the tech startup developed the block chain technology to help resolve the “severe” crisis faced by African utilities.
He said: “Almost every municipality in South Africa is in arrears with the utility suppliers and are unable to recover the costs from their customers.”
Inflation occurs because each bill goes through several different middlemen who each charge a fee. When people cannot afford their bills, they resort to non-payment or utility theft.
To combat this widespread issue of cost-recovery, a number of African countries are now deploying pre-paid smart meters. “This works the same as pre-paid airtime on a mobile phone,” Lorien explains. However, this does not fix the problem, he says, because “80% of Africans don’t have bank accounts.”
Many Africans find it difficult or impossible to pay their utility bills due to inflated utility costs and inefficient payment solutions. The crisis is severe. Lorien states:
Bankymoon is also applying the blockchain technology to create a crowd-funding platform for schools in Africa.
The company will supply a school with a Bankymoon meter. Donors can then send money to the assigned Bitcoin address and electricity credits will be added to the school’s meter.
Through Bankymoon’s crowd-sourcing platform Usizo, donors will be able to view information on students, teachers, infrastructure and an estimate of the utility usage.
They will be able to read statements from the principal and see what the curriculum or focus is of the school.
Bankymoon launched earlier this year with its meter top-up solution using Bitcoin.
Bankymoon’s integration of Bitcoin payments into smart metering systems allows users to 'send' electricity, water and gas to any recipient anywhere in the world to top up their utility meters, reports Bitcoin magazine.
Founded in 2015, the company gives smart meters their own Bitcoin addresses. When a smart meter receives a Bitcoin payment, Bankymoon then calculates the tariff and loads the meter.