Swedish Startup Space

New startup Bitrefill takes on international mobile recharge with Bitcoin.

Written by on December 5, 2014

Bitrefill has a really simple, but powerful value proposition – it helps users top up pre paid mobile phones with Bitcoin.

At launch, the service supports topping up on prepaid SIM cards used by over 400 operators in 100 countries, with more operators on the way. Their prices, compared to credit card-based recharge services are lower, in part due to the absence of fraud and chargebacks. Using Bitcoin only allows Bitrefill to cut costs and pass the savings on to their customers, an ideal demonstration of the strengths of Bitcoin.

– “If you’re a crook that has a hundred thousand stolen credit card numbers on file, one of the things you want to do with them is to exchange them for things that are close to money, mobile credits being one example. “, says Sergej Kotliar, founder of the service.

He continues: “When communicating with suppliers, their main concern is always how they will deal with fraud and chargebacks. By not having to deal with that we can offer a more automated service, and pass the savings on to the end user. ”

Sergej built the service to cut costs and help expand in third world: “I built it because it’s needed. Both to cut costs of mobile remittances, and also to establish bitcoin in the third world – in many countries this is the only thing one can buy for bitcoin today.”

The team currently consists only of Sergej but is in discussions to expand the team with a CTO and sales people.

“We sell prepaid mobile credits for more money than it costs us to buy it. So making money right away”

Sergej tells us that the service is already making money: “We sell prepaid mobile credits for more money than it costs us to buy it. So making money right away, although small volumes of course. Paying customers using it excitedly in countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ghana, Egypt, Caribean Islands, Ecuador, Pakistan, India, Poland, Romania, Brazil, list goes long. It’s a global business with currently the turnover of a lemonade stand. But growing steadily, returning customers that happily blog and rave about us.””

As the segment is getting hotter, they are also looking for investors and how to grow this into a larger business: “Yes, we’ve begun talking to investors, both Swedish and Bitcoin industry investors. Media and user attention caused a realization that there is a bigger case than originally thought, which brought about a larger vision that actually can help lower remittance costs and be a really big business – but a larger project to build.”

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