NordOvest Energie, a Turin-based utility company that supplies electricity and gas to Italian households and companies, has partnered with local startup Tinkl.it to enable consumers to pay their bills with bitcoins.
The partnership will make NordOvest Energie the second utility firm in the European Union, following Bas Nederland, to accept bitcoin as a payment method.
Commenting on the event, Catia Rossi, managing director at NordOvest Energie SRL, said in a release:
"Being the first utility company in Italy and the second in Europe to offer this feature to our customers is a great source of pride for us.
“It strengthens our will to work and invest on future and on technological innovation."
Through the agreement, Italian bitcoin payment processor Tinkl.it will handle all online, digital currency utility payments without charging NordOvest Energie any transaction or service fees. Bitcoin payments will be instantly converted to euros, allowing the company to avoid volatility risks, the two companies said.
Tinkl.it, an Italian bitcoin payment processor owned by cryptocurrency exchange The Rock Trading Ltd., is looking to boost bitcoin adoption with a specific focus on local businesses and merchants.
In an interview with local media outlet StartupItalia, Tinkl.it co-founder Andrea Medri emphasized:
"Our ideal customers are Italians. We will focus mainly on the domestic market, and then, we will begin [with] English [speaking areas].
But at this early stage, the priority is to focus on the market the closest to us, [the market that] we are the most [familiar with]."
Although international rivals such as U.S.-based Coinbase and BitPay have expanded to the European market, Medrano remains confident.
"Reaching the coverage of an entire country like Italy, among others, is very complex," he said, before arguing that even with two heavily funded startups in the market, there is still place for other players.
NordOvest Energie follows the lead of Dutch firm BAS Nederland, which announced in March 2014 that it had decided to accept bitcoin as a payment method. Back then, founder Arash Aazami said that the technology was in accordance with his company's goal to "reduce dependence on old, limiting systems."
"Like [BAS Nederland], Bitcoin aims to increase independence and gives people the possibility to create value. This speaks to a worldwide audience that wants to break free from crumbling 'old world systems."