Bitrefill, a company that provides Bitcoin-funded prepaid card solutions for various international services, has announced a new service for bill payment that will allow Salvadorans with Bitcoin to pay multiple essential needs. The company made the announcement during the three-day conference Adopting Bitcoin carried in El Salvador, which brought together “the Bitcoin and Lightning community”.
Bitcoin has been a legal tender in El Salvador since September 7th, but many businesses were not sticking to the requirement of accomodating the digital coin as a payment method into their operations, Bitrefill’s CEO noted. Some even said they prefer to lose sales. Bitrefill is a platform that allows businesses to easily use Bitcoin to ease current concerns and adapt to it.
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Bitrefill’s bill-payment method will allow Salvadorians to pay for 150 different services using Bitcoin, including internet, water, insurance, loans, taxes, mortgage, social security services, university expenses, and others. International payments are also possible. They currently have 12 services available on their website. The rest will be added over the coming weeks.
It will utilize Bitcoins Lightning Network as well as on-chain transaction, which allow for low fees. “El Salvador can now live entire on Bitcoin”, stated the company.
This feature is available in partnership with Puntoexpress a local payment platform. Users only have to enter their email address in order to receive a receipt and a code for a coupon.
El Salvador, A Bitcoin Land
Bitrefill reported they have processed 187,000 purchases in El Salvador during 2021, and 88% come from the country’s capital, San Salvador. There was a peak of 20,000 payments in September when the ‘Bitcoin law’ went into effect.
Most Salvadorans prefer the Chivo digital currency, which was created by government officials, to pay for their Bitrefill transactions.
Bitrefill’s CEO, Sergej Kotliar, stated that they now have headquarters established in El Salvador, a manager in the country, and they are hiring for all roles to cover the company’s needs. He explained that his strategy was to direct involvement in El Salvador by staying present and maintaining contact to people who offer different perspectives and other information to the company to help them design additional services.
El Salvador’s CEO believes that it could be a model for others. In a tweet, the company stated:
It is important to note that almost all online purchases, including products, services and bills, can be made by the 80 percent of people who are not banked (or from relatives living in the USA).
El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin has been a bumpy road. The Chivo Wallet gained over 2.2million users within a matter of weeks. This includes around 8,500 additional users every hour as well as 3,000,000 users later. The app was free to download, and citizens got $30 for each. Some users complained that the app is difficult to use or makes it impossible to withdraw funds.
Although there are still challenges ahead, the government continues to be optimistic. We are yet to see if innovation and good strategies can help close the gap between the government’s vision and the tension around Salvadorians.
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