Bankymoon, a South Africa-based startup, makes it possible for those without a bank account to pay utility bills with digital currency. According to the World Bank, half of the world’s population is unbanked, and 80% of them live in Africa. Bitcoin can be a powerful tool in the hands of the unbanked and underbanked people struggling to make ends meet, Bankymoon’s founder Lorien Gamaroff believes.

The startup has recently presented a cryptocurrency-centered mobile app that allows its users to pay their water or electricity bills without going to a service centre or a bank. The app’s platform uses bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies to process payment transactions. The user’s bitcoin account is tied to a smart-grid device that dispenses energy or water to a household. Bankymoon receives payments from the user in bitcoin, calculates the size of the bill, and transmits the amount to the metre.

Users also have the option to pay someone else’s bills, whether for their parents living abroad or for a charity cause. Lorien Gamaroff’s preferred example is a school in a remote African village, whose utility bills are paid by overseas charity organizations. 

The startup itself plans to charge transaction fees, which are much lower than that of the banks. Although the team is still not sure what the fee will be, the proven revenue model must surely attract investors, they claim. Reportedly, Bankymoon is currently looking for subscribers to a US $1.5  million investment round, which will allow the project to hire more developers and sustain itself for two years.

However, Bankymoon’s offer is not been the first on the market. A Canada-based startup, Bylls, allows to pay bills from well over 6,000 organizations including governments. Bylls was one of the first to offer its users utility payments via bitcoin, and it uses a flat conversion rate. Another project worth mentioning is the Australian-based Living Room of Satoshi, which remains a free-to-use service based on the idea of creating a bitcoin-centered economy in the country.