While interest in blockchain gathers pace in the energy sector, the Romanian energy supplier Eva Energy has taken the plunge and become the first (of which Engerati is aware) to accept gas and electricity bill payments with cryptocurrencies.
To enable this, Eva Energy is partnering with C.O.S.S. Pte Ltd (COSS), a Singapore blockchain startup backgrounded in Romania, to provide the payment solution.
The COSS ‘Crypto One Stop Solution’ platform was conceived as a payment gateway for merchants to receive cryptocurrency payments for products and services.
The platform is claimed to encompass “all aspects of a digital ecosystem based on cryptocurrency aimed at spreading its adoption.” Features include a payment gateway/point of sale (POS), merchant list, trading exchange, digital marketplace, e-wallet, etc.
Currently C.O.S.S. is running a token swap, aka initial coin offering (ICO) or crowdsale, for its token, unsurprisingly named COSS, with which holders can earn revenues in the other cryptocurrencies.
Eva Energy was founded in 2012 by Austrian entrepreneur and energy sector specialist, Cristian Hagmann, to deliver electricity and natural gas to industrial and domestic customers.
Eva Energy currently has approximately 70,000 customers. The aim is to increase the number of customers up to 300,000 by 2019 through growth and geographical expansion, providing them with the option to pay their monthly bills in any cryptocurrency offered through the COSS payment gateway.
Currently cryptocurrency billing is being enabled through a broad range of cryptocurrencies. These include the bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), litecoin (LTC), dash (DASH), NEM (XEM), lisk (LSK), TenX (PAY), bantam (BNT), SONM (SNM), veros (VRS), ark (ARK), token as a service (TaaS), civic (CVC) and Digital Developers Fund (DDF).
Support for new coins is being added on a regular basis, at times as frequently as weekly, according to a C.O.S.S. statement.
Under its 5-year plan, Eva Energy envisages its growth and expansion to generate €55.5m. To support these activities, which include investments in both human resources and assets, the company intends by the end of August to issue its own trading platform and token, named Bitwatt.
A lifestyle choice
Explaining the background to Eva Energy, Hagmann says: "In 2010, I was invited to a conference in Romania to speak about smart networks. We conducted an energy market analysis and discovered that the demand for smart metering was strong, and that's why Eva Energy was founded.”
He comments that the company has aimed to take an innovative approach to enhance its development. In 2015 Eva Energy started re-thinking its payment media and partnered with PayPoint to enable payments for its bills via terminals in convenience stores across Romania.
More recently Eva Energy launched 'energy cards' to introduce its customers to flexible payment methods.
And blockchain is the next step.
“The entire energy segment is entering a new era with many sources of generation and consumption and productions and production and demand is the future,” says Hagmann. “In my opinion, a smart contract chain together with cryptocurrency payments is a package designed for smart consumers. Blockchain embedded with communication, emobility and energy together on smartphones or other devices will become a lifestyle.”
Hagmann comments that customer reaction cannot be evaluated given the short period of time the payment option has been available, but there has been “interest for them to see this possibility.”
Starting September, the option also will be printed on customers’ energy bills.
Under a memorandum of understanding between Eva Energy and C.O.S.S., the two companies have committed to supporting each other’s development plans.
As the technology forms part of Eva Energy’s core business, licences for other users will become available in September, Hagmann says.