T-Mobile Poland announced in late February that they would start offering a 20% discount for mobile top-up credits paid with bitcoin. The announcement is part of a three month partnership with Warsaw-based bitcoin payment processor, InPay. T-Mobile Poland is the first business of the large telecommunication company to test bitcoin payments. An InPay spokesperson said T-Mobile Poland’s motivation for the partnership with the bitcoin payment processor, was the mobile operator’s recent initiative to explore new services and business models.
Operating since 1996, T-Mobile Poland has become one of the largest mobile operators in Poland. The company serves nearly 15.7 million customers, with their 3G network covering almost 100 percent of the country’s population. Besides its telecommunication services, it also offers mobile financial services through its subsidiary company, T-Mobile Banking.
To pay with bitcoin, T-Mobile customers must visit InPay’s mobile top-up website. The user will then be showed a variety of purchasable amounts of phone credits. When an amount is selected, a QR code and corresponding bitcoin address will be revealed. After paying, the user will be sent a one-time code that will unlock the purchased phone credits.
Besides the large discount, InPay CEO Lech Wilczyński, says users will also benefit from the privacy (no personal information is required) and speed (the credits are sent within 30 seconds) of the service.
A Growing Trend
T-Mobile Poland is following in the steps of an increasing number of large merchants that are accepting the bitcoin. In December 2014, the world saw two fortune 500 companies — Microsoft and Time Inc. — accept bitcoin for their digital content and services.
Going beyond simply accepting the bitcoin, some large merchants have become enthusiastic supporters. Since adding the currency in July 2014, NewEgg has incorporated it into the core of its business. NewEgg actively promotes the crypto-currency to customers and offers its highest discount — 5 percent — to those who pay with bitcoin.
Bitcoin has also seen adoption in the mobile top-up sector. BitMoby and Bitrefill offer a worldwide mobile top-up service exclusively available for bitcoin. Emerging market payment pioneer, mHITs, who operates BitMoby, said bitcoin offers exciting possibilities for the mobile top-up industry in the area of payments and checkout processes.
Bitcoin in Poland
Though rarely showing up in bitcoin news stories, Poland has a large and growing number of bitcoin users and businesses. The country is 9th in number of bitcoin wallet downloadsworldwide; totalling over 100,000 downloads. There are also several bitcoin exchanges and an active bitcoin community in the Eastern European nation.
Since its launch in 2014, InPay has drastically grown the number of bitcoin accepting merchants in the country. In October, the payment processor signed a Polish hospital ran by the Warsaw-headquartered Medicover Group. The company has also added hotels,online retailers of digital content, restaurants and many other businesses to its list of clients.