Local smart meter developer Invirohub has integrated Bitcoin into its systems, allowing consumers to buy electricity using the digital currency. Once enabled on its smart meters, any user who has Bitcoins will be able to pay the Bitcoin address associated with each meter. Each meter has a built-in 3G Sim for connectivity and can connect to a server to calculate the latest Bitcoin exchange rate. As with other types of payment, once a Bitcoin transaction is successful, the smart meter will then credit the user with the appropriate amount of electricity. Invirohub technical director Lorien Gamaroff says his interest in Bitcoin started in 2011. The company, in which JSE-listed Bidvest is a 60% shareholder, uses Israeli technology for its smart meters but manufactures the devices locally and uses locally made software. According to Gamaroff, the company will soon be setting up a factory in South Africa and is also about to begin a big expansion into Nigeria.
Gamaroff admits it is still early days for Bitcoin — no one has yet begun using the Bitcoin option on Invirohub’s smart meters — but he thinks it will play a major role in future in digital payments. Introduced in 2009, Bitcoin is an open-source and peer-to-peer payment system with no central authority or bank. It is not owned or controlled by anyone and its use has sparked controversy, particularly because transactions can be made anonymously, causing concern among law enforcement agencies. – © 2014 NewsCentral Media
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