While Africa’s first Bitcoin ATM is installed in Johannesburg, the city is also host to a company that allows its electricity customers to use Bitcoin to top up their prepaid meters.
Invirohub, a smart meter developer owned by the Bidvest Group, has designed an integrated appliance to facilitate Bitcoin payments. According to local online magazine TechCentral.za, each meter will have a Bitcoin address associated with it, to which users then send a payment once the feature is enabled.
Once the transaction is approved, funds are automatically credited to the meter, which is also equipped with a built-in 3G SIM card and can connect to a server to calculate the correct exchange rate at the time of purchase.
The move, technical director Lorien Gamaroff said, was the first step in a major expansion plan, with a manufacturing plant in South Africa to be accompanied by major integration with the Nigerian market.
This will complement Invirohub’s existing operation, which uses Israeli-made technology to manufacture the meters locally with software also coming from the local scene.
Despite customers so far not making use of the Bitcoin option, Gamaroff remains confident for the future, sentiment which is seeing support across South Africa and the rest of the continent.
Both hardware and other infrastructure innovations are making waves in Africa, from remittance challengers in Kenya to the impressive charity work of Alakanani Itireleng in Botswana. With Invirohub, however, the continent is witnessing more than development; it is becoming a place of firsts, something which for more than the Bitcoin community will hold a great deal of promise.