Bitcoin News: Bitcoin Startup Offers Prepaid Mobile to 100 Nations

Reaching the millions of unbanked consumers worldwide has long been a goal of the wider bitcoin industry, but to date, it has struggled to gain users outside of more developed countries. Crossing this awareness gap is the driving force behind Piiko, a prepaid mobile phone top-up service that currently serves consumers with select phone plans in more than 100 countries worldwide, including major markets such as the US, China, Brazil and India.

Launched in April as the first product from Dubai-based bitcoin startup Umbrellab, Piiko is part of the company’s larger plans to court consumers by allowing them to harness the power of bitcoin for everyday utility purchases.

Umbrellab co-founders Tarik Kaddoumi and Sergey Yusupov said, “We started with mobile recharge as there was already a necessity, and the market was ripe in terms of the bitcoin community spending on various services and products worldwide. The plan is to extend into other services such as TV, Internet providers and other types of utility and bill payments that can be paid online, but are currently not accepting bitcoin.”

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Despite its founders’ ambitions, Piiko has faced its share of difficulties, which saw the mobile top-up service relaunch just a few weeks ago after a lengthy blackout period.

Kaddoumi and Yusupov indicated that a third party had previously acted on its behalf, serving as the formal legal partner to the cellphone service providers it works with. In June, however, Umbrellab decided it was time to forge these relationships directly in a bid to cut costs.

With this objective complete, Kaddoumi is optimistic that the service will be able to continue to cater to its already dedicated user base.

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Umbrellab’s Piiko product has notably been driven by bitcoin’s Reddit community. The co-founders explained that Umbrellab had been silently testing the service without promotion, but that the word quickly got out via the social media site.

Kaddoumi added that, because of this experience, Umbrellab has continued to engage the bitcoin community on how its service can be improved, taking part in open discussions about improvements and new features.

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