A NORTH-EAST startup company is making waves in the finance sector with its payment technology that allows people to pay in Bitcoin – but users may never know they are doing so.
Bottle Pay gives people a way of paying for goods with cryptocurrency Bitcoin via their social media accounts, cutting out the need for a bank, third parties and costly transaction fees that come with traditional banking.
Bitcoin is an virtual currency that works without the need for a central bank. Coins are sent over the internet, directly from person to person, and are kept in a digital wallet.
Bottle Pay founder Pete Cheyne believes his app will help encourage mainstream use of Bitcoin as it is purpose-built for digital natives who “know each other by an avatar and not bank details”.
The app, which announced on Tuesday it has secured £11 million in a seed funding round, allows people to make international payments in both the cryptocurrency and fiat currencies in real time.
Sending money via Twitter, Reddit and Discord, users can also make cost-effective micro payments.
Mr Cheyne said: “It’ not economical for businesses to use micro transitions because of the incumbent financial system. If you make a payment it goes through three middle-men and they all want their cut, making fees costly.
“But we don’t use that system because we have built our own infrastructure that works for a micro economy and offers businesses new ways to monetise.”
Bitcoin transactions are traditionally slow due to the distributed nature of blockchain, the software it is built on, but the Bottle Pay team have leveraged ‘ Lightning Network’ technology to create second software layer and allow for real-time transactions.
Bosses say this will also help scale the product.
Launched just weeks ago on February 10, Mr Cheyne says figures are strong for the amount of money already moving through the app.
He said: “The launch has been awesome. A lot of people are realising the value in Bitcoin.
“There is Bitcoin the asset and Bitcoin the network [the software it uses]. There is a big variation.
“The network is distributed and trustless, no one is using it for their own personal gain.
“We are really passionate about Bitcoin and it is on us to show people its utility and possibilities.”
While every transaction is completed in Bitcoin, users may never know as the app includes a setting to automatically convert Bitcoin back into fiat currencies.
This means users can avoid the volatility of Bitcoin, as its worth being driven by the market.
The app is currently available in the UK and the team plan to expand into Europe and the US.
Mr Cheyne added: “We are making currencies speak the same language.”
It comes as Elon Musk’s Tesla pushed cryptocurrency into headlines when it bought $1.5 billion of Bitcoin with plans to start accepting it as payment in the future.
However, the risky move saw the carmaker’s shares slip and Mr Musk lose his title as the world’s richest person.
Research by insights firm Piplsay found 46 per cent of respondents think brands like Apple, Amazon and Tesco should start accepting cryptocurrency, with 28 per cent disagreeing and 26 per cent saying they are not sure.
When asked what about cryptocurrency worries them, 29 per cent of people said fear of hacking or fraudulent activities while 19 per cent said volatility. Some 26 per cent said both lack of regulations and law and lack of knowledge about the system.
While cryptocurrency was once known for its anonymous nature, making it a tool for criminals, Mr Cheyne says technology has progressed and users can be identified, adding: “It’s all above board and legitimate. Every transaction can be tracked and is is transparent.
“Elon Musk investing in Bitcoin is really helping to legitimise the cryptocurrency and push it into the mainstream.”
Mr Cheyne also argued that while there are other cyrptocurrencies, Bitcoin is the strongest as it others are controlled by a business or foundation.
Bottle Pay is made up of 30 employees over ten time zones, eight of which are based in the North-East.