Australian Bitcoin bill payment service Living Room of Satoshi announced on Monday that it has processed over 5 million Australian dollars worth of household bills. Bitcoin.com talked to co-founder and CTO Daniel Alexiuc to learn more about how this milestone was reached and the company’s future plans. He revealed that $4 million worth of bills were paid in bitcoin in the last 16 months alone.
About Living Room of Satoshi
Launched in May 2014, the Brisbane-based company Living Room of Satoshi enables online bill payments and bank transfers using bitcoin and five other cryptocurrencies. Any bills with the BPAY logo and Biller Code can be paid. “More than 19,000 businesses accept payments using BPAY,” the company states.
The service makes money from currency spreads so it does not charge any fees. Three months after launching, the company had paid $150,000 AUD worth of Australian household bills with bitcoin.
Alexiuc told Bitcoin.com:
May 2014 to December 2015 was our first million AUD (20 months). The next 4 million was from January 2016 to April 2017 (16 months).
Overall, it only took the company 16 months to grow from $1 million worth of bills paid to $5 million. While the company allows bill payments using five other cryptocurrencies, the $5 million was in bitcoin only with other cryptocurrencies accounting for only $250,000 of bills paid, Alexiuc clarified.
$4 Million Bills Paid in 16 Months
Bitcoin.com (BC): What are the main reasons for this accelerated growth?
Living Room of Satoshi (LRS): I think it’s basically organic growth that is reflecting the increased Bitcoin usage and adoption overall. When I started Living Room of Satoshi, there was very little you could do with Bitcoin. But now in addition to our bill payment service, there are multiple exchanges, wage conversion services and a whole host of retail options for Bitcoin usage.
BC: How many users do you have now? Where are they located?
LRS: We have more than 1,100 registered users, and many more who use Living Room of Satoshi casually to pay bills without signing up. The majority are in Australia, but we see lots of customers using the service from overseas – for example, one father in Germany is helping out with his daughter’s bills while she is studying in Australia.
BC: For both bills and bank transfers, how much do you process each month on average? How has it been growing?
LRS: We’re averaging around $100,000 per week at the moment (the last 10 weeks). This is an increase from about $60,000 per week for the previous 10 weeks.
BC: What is the average bill payment size through your site?
BC: Can you give us a breakdown of how much of the $5 million is bill payments and how much is bank transfers?
LRS: It’s a little difficult to break it down, many bills are paid using bank transfer in Australia too, and we don’t record personal vs bill use in this case. But the raw data is this: 47% BPAY and 53% Bank transfer.
BC: Are there any regulations that affect your company?
LRS: Yes, the biggest of these is the “Double GST” charged on Bitcoin purchases, which makes it very difficult for Bitcoin to gain adoption with business in Australia. Our Treasurer Scott Morrison announced that this “Double GST” on Bitcoin would be abolished almost one year ago, and recently reaffirmed his commitment to this. But the government cannot seem to keep pace with the innovation happening in the crypto space for Australian business, and nothing has changed yet.
BC: Can you explain the regulatory requirement that limits each bill payment to $1,000? How many people need to pay bills larger than that limit?
LRS: The regulations and reasons are long, involved and boring, but that’s what currently applies to our service. We certainly have demand for larger bills to be paid. My own electricity bill is more than $1000 now! At the moment, it needs to be split up over 2 payments but we are planning to meet the additional regulatory requirements to be able to lift this limit in the future.
Next Milestone & Expansion Plans
BC: What is your expansion plan?
LRS: Expanding internationally, into New Zealand first. We Aussies have a close affinity with our neighbours “across the ditch”.
BC: Do you plan to offer the service outside of Australia?
LRS: Yes, we get a lot of requests from people in many countries who want us to come there. Regulatory requirements are the most difficult hurdle to overcome, followed by maintaining stable banking relationships.
BC: Do you plan to support other types of bills other than BPAY?
LRS: BPAY has a quasi-monopoly on bill payments in Australia, being a company that is jointly owned by Australia’s big 4 banks. This makes it extremely difficult for competition in the space. The vast majority of bills are paid in Australia using BPAY or Bank transfer, so we have covered both of those. But we are hoping that, eventually, we will be able to convince billers to start accepting payment directly in Bitcoin, and then customers can bypass Living Room of Satoshi completely!
BC: What is your next milestone and when do you think you will reach it?
LRS: Adoption is accelerating, we hope to hit $10 million before the end of the year.
Would you use Living Room of Satoshi to pay your bills if available in your area? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Australian Government, and Living Room of Satoshi
Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.
Spot-markets for Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Litecoin and more. Start your trading here.