Gas Stations in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia operated by Lukoil will now accept Bitcoin through a service called SpectroCoin, which allows them to pay with Bitcoin at the pump.
Thanks to an integration with Worapay a mobile payment network users can now load their wallets and pay for fuel at Lukoil locations.
An announcement on SpectroCoin’s blog said about the move in April:
"SpectroCoin.com is proud to announce that we have integrated WoraPay network into our Android, iOS and Windows Phone mobile wallets. So from now you can pay with Bitcoins in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.”
SpectroCoin was founded in 2013 and has been making its mark in European and Asian countries since its inception as the first Bitcoin service to allow users to pay with euros through the Bitcoin network. The company handles virtual wallets and exchange markets mostly based in the Baltic area, and considers itself primarily a remittance service whose main focus is the underbanked of that region.
The collaboration marks one of the first implementations of Worapay’s payment network with a third party. Worapay, which FinTech 50 called one of the top companies to look out for in 2015, is an indirect method of Bitcoin payment as merchants’ final transactions will be paid out in euros. With transactions secured in this way to help curb volatility, both of these companies aim to improve the mobile payment solutions available in the region.
Mobile payment companies like SpectroCoin and Worapay have keen interest in their target audience, the underbanked. SpectroCoin furthermore wants to cover not just the underbanked but move towards a status as a universal Bitcoin provider. CEO Vytautas Karalevicius told Cointelegraph:
"Elsewhere, we are expanding our merchant network both by ourselves and through partners, so soon there will be a wide network of locations accepting bitcoin in our region. Also, we have introduced vouchers, which can be used for non-digital off chain transactions among people."
This news adds another sphere of merchant acceptance for those beginning to pay with Bitcoin in the Baltic. SpectroCoin also offers the same service at a Lithuanian cab service, as well as some restaurants in the Baltic region. The Latvian Airline AirBaltic was the first airline service in the world to accept Bitcoin. Although US giant Bitpay has claimed that specific airline, smaller companies like SpectroCoin are increasing the competition.
It seems cryptocurrencies are indeed gaining a lot of traction in these countries.In Estonia, the non-profit Estonian Crypto Association claims its user base is growing exponentially, the group having been founded due to the increase in cryptocurrency initiatives in the area. Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia have all felt pressures from the economic crash in 2008. The three regions’ economies experienced some of the longest recessions in Europe, and the real estate market crashed hard, freezing many financial services. Digital currency has boomed in the Baltic States as reported on the Estonian Crypto Associations home page.
Despite the Estonian Central Bank warning of a ‘big risk’ regarding virtual money and Estonia’s central tax authority applying a 20% VAT (value-added tax) to the sale of bitcoins, Bitcoin acceptance in the Baltic region is showing its colors and increasing in popularity. In this respect, companies like SpectroCoin and Worapay are paving the way.