Russians now have the possibility to pay their Internet and phone bills with bitcoin through Cryptonator and 7pay.in services.
Megafon, MTS, Beeline, Tele2 and other popular Russian mobile operators now allow bitcoin payments via two online services. The first, Cryptonator, is a payment platform that accepts online payments for games such as World of Tanks, Perfect World and others. The system does not accept BTC payments for Internet and phone bills directly, but only after a conversion into roubles according to the platform’s internal rate. According to Cryptonator, the service’s main advantage is the fact that it does not charge any fees.
The second company that offers a bitcoin payment option is 7pay.in. It allows its clients to exchange bitcoin and to pay Internet and mobile phone bills. The company advertises the additional safety it offers—it does not hold its clients’ bitcoins—and the transparency of its services, guaranteed by the statistics concerning all processed operations provided by 7pay.in’s website.
In view of the submission of a bitcoin-ban draft law to the Duma (Russia’s legislative assembly), the future of all bitcoin-related services in Russia could be seen as uncertain. According to experts, however, there is no danger that these services could be terminated by the government. According to Vladimir Dubinin, COO at Distributed Lab, as cited by CoinTelegraph, such platforms could attract the regulators’ attention, provided they become popular with ordinary users.
“Regulators would impose sanctions to the founders only if their products become really significant in the market. And the more popular the service would be, the stricter sanctions would be imposed.”
These services, however, are hardly designed to demonstrate the advantages of bitcoin to uninformed clients. On the contrary, they are mostly created as a useful option for those who already use the cryptocurrency.
Moreover, other experts remark that the bitcoin-related services do not use the virtual currency itself. In fact, they only convert bitcoin into roubles and finalise payments in national Russian currency. Consequently, there is no reason for the government to ban them.