Montreal Startup Bylls Wants You To Live Off Bitcoins

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Canada’s largest Bitcoin Expo wrapped up this weekend in Toronto. It was clear from the type of exhibitors on the floor that a key focus was in driving adoption of this digital currency through utility and ease of use.

Montreal-based Bylls is doing this by proving that one can live their Bitcoins by paying anything from school fees to utlity bills to credit card bills, using the cryptocurrency. A Bitcoin bill payment service, Bylls has over 4,000 billers across Canada in its database. The system works without the need for an exchange and can pay a bill in much the same way users would use online banking.

Launched in January of this year, Bylls has seen a consistent 15-20 percent month-over-month growth in users and volume of bill payments by its users who are from across Canada. The service is aimed both at hardcore miners who eventually will have to pay their bills, and new users who are might be asking what exactly they can buy with Bitcoins.

Spano acknowledged that buying Bitcoins today just to pay your bills may not make the most sense as it may cost you more. But the goal of the service is to let people know that Bitcoins are liquid and that they can be spent on anything. And for those who are early adopters, it’s a great way to spend mining proceeds without the hassle and all the fees of an exchange.

“The fact of the matter is that whether you are speculating, whether you are mining or whether you are just holding on to them and hording them, at some point you are going to have things to pay for, its inevitable,” Spano told BetaKit. “Even if you believe that Bitcoin is going to go to $10,000 and you don’t want to spend any of them, at some point you are going to have your hydro or electricity bill to pay. So if you are going to have to do it, at least make it as painless as possible”.

Bylls has a four-tier fee structure which you pay per transaction. Bills that are under $499 have fees from three to six dollars, while those over $500 are charged at 1 percent of the bill payment. Spano explained that Bylls fees are still lower than those you would expect to pay to get setup on an exchange, make an order and then transfer your funds to a bank in order to use them. In addition, transferring money from exchanges to a bank account can take days. With Bylls, bills can be paid directly and if users do so before five o’clock, they can be processed that same day.

But Spano hopes that Bylls is only a stopgap and sees its service becoming obsolete in five to ten years when he hopes Bitcoin becomes a more widely accepted currency.

“For digital, online transactions [Bitcoin] is the future,” Spano told us. “Credit cards weren’t made for the Internet. Credit cards were designed in the 1950s and haven’t changed. No one thought of buying apps and music on the Internet in the 1950s but here we are today and you need to expose a lot of personal information to buy this stuff. So I think for people who use smartphones and buy stuff from the app store and buy music online, Bitcoin makes the most sense because you have very low risk and can keep your privacy. Bitcoin is a currency designed for the Internet, so its time we use it for Internet-related things. We are playing our part so that people get to know it and see it’s useful.”

Tom Emrich

Tom Emrich

As a writer, consultant and community builder, Tom Emrich uses his passion for new technologies to act as a catalyst to bring on the future. He founded We Are Wearables, an organization that rallies the tech community together to learn, discuss and celebrate the wearable tech space in order to foster adoption and facilitate innovation. We Are Wearables currently has chapters in Toronto and Chicago. Tom writes regularly about wearables and other emerging technologies for MobileSyrup, BetaKit and Designers of Things. He also works with startups, and large organizations as an advisor and consultant offering assistance on product development, marketing and organizational strategy.