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Belgian Telecom Becomes First To Accept Bitcoin

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the exchange-rates-may-vary dept.

Bitcoin 65

An anonymous reader writes "Belgian telecom Mobile Vikings announced this week that it will begin accepting payment in BitCoin. Combined with mobile wallet apps, the service promises to revolutionize point of sale technologies. Could this be the tipping point for both BitCoin and payment by mobile phone?"

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Tipping point (2)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | about 8 months ago | (#45754793)

Could this be the tipping point for both BitCoin and payment by mobile phone?"

No. Hopefully this particular hopeful news article questioning doesn't last as long as the "Is this the year of Linux on the desktop?" one.

Re:Tipping point (0)

thue (121682) | about 8 months ago | (#45754899)

Betteridge's law of headlines [wikipedia.org] seems to apply here, though it isn't exactly a headline.

Re:Tipping point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45754951)

The only bad part of "Is this the year of Linux on the desktop." vs "Is this the year of Linux in computing." Android is taking over in consumer products.

Too unstable (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#45754857)

You can't generally set a value for something of worth in bitcoin, because its value changes too much... sometimes even from one day to the next. The only way to manage it at all is to always deal in x dollars worth of bitcoin, in which case the dollar is still the currency being used.

Re:Too unstable (3, Informative)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 8 months ago | (#45754925)

x currency worth of bitcoins. There are other countries out there with their own currencies

Re:Too unstable (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#45755029)

Fair enough... I apologize profusely for my lack of global inclusion.

Re: Too unstable (1)

SpaceCracker (939922) | about 8 months ago | (#45755053)

x currency worth of bitcoins. There are other countries out there with their own currenciesAre there? Generally speaking, Americans don't seem to be aware of the fact. Or care, if they are.

Re: Too unstable (2)

easyTree (1042254) | about 8 months ago | (#45756083)

I saw a snippet of a documentary on TV years ago (before I removed it from the house) which revealed that a survey had highlighted that fifty percent of Americans don't know that there *are* other countries!

Re: Too unstable (1)

GNious (953874) | about 8 months ago | (#45758941)

I assume that was before the US went on an invasion-spree....?

Re: Too unstable (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#45759267)

I get that if you ask them if "Paris" is a country they might say "yes" but if they watch TV they must at least know the "enemy" countries - Iran, Iraq, Russia, China...etc.

Re: Too unstable (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 8 months ago | (#45759277)

Hmmn. It would be a shame if those propaganda dollars had gone to waste, huh?

Re:Too unstable (2)

De Lemming (227104) | about 8 months ago | (#45755017)

Like almost all online merchants who accept Bitcoin, they set their price in euros or dollars and the price in BTC is calculated at the moment of sale. Mobile Vikings uses BitPay [bitpay.com] as a payment processor who offers this service, another one is Coinbase [coinbase.com] .

Re:Too unstable (2)

vinehair (1937606) | about 8 months ago | (#45755073)

This kind of service doesn't help at all with future planning of finances, as would what you'd expect with a mobile phone plan. Sure, these services help with the immediate case, but if I have a recurring payment of $20, say, every month, what good is that to me if XBT have just tanked yet again and I have less than half in my wallet than I had planned for? The stability is the biggest (one of the only?) problems left with bitcoin to solve before it could see wider use, and this right now is just a novelty way to pay the odd bill or two for a slim margin of customers, from a company that has made its name with similar novel marketing tactics.

Re:Too unstable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45755791)

It's no different than subscribing to something from another country using traditional currencies. Let's say I'm in Canada buying a service from an American company, e.g. a web hosting service. Right now Canadian dollar is close to par compared to US dollar but it may go back to pre-2000 levels where US$1 equalled CAD$1.4, then my cost for the same service rises with the exchange rate .

Frankly, a lot of stuff people object to about Bitcoin applies to usual currencies as well, it's just people's xenophobia that makes them single out Bitcoins.

Re:Too unstable (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 8 months ago | (#45755957)

This kind of service doesn't help at all with future planning of finances, as would what you'd expect with a mobile phone plan. Sure, these services help with the immediate case, but if I have a recurring payment of $20, say, every month, what good is that to me if XBT have just tanked yet again and I have less than half in my wallet than I had planned for?

The stability is the biggest (one of the only?) problems left with bitcoin to solve before it could see wider use, and this right now is just a novelty way to pay the odd bill or two for a slim margin of customers, from a company that has made its name with similar novel marketing tactics.

Indeed... now people in Belgium can pretend they're living in Venezuela, where people pay in bolivars indexed against the item's value in USD.

Re:Too unstable (1)

Smauler (915644) | about 8 months ago | (#45757395)

This kind of service doesn't help at all with future planning of finances

No, and everyone who uses bitcoin knows that its value is not stable. Anyone who agrees to a contract based on bitcoin and only bitcoin deserves what they get. This is a strawman, since no one is advocating bitcoin being used for future planning of finances.

FTFA : "Payments can be used to top up credit or to buy new SIM cards and gift vouchers." This is not a contract. Bitcoin is not a serious alternative to the more stable currencies we have now. However, this proves it is something with value... you can use it to buy stuff. The more stuff you can buy with it, the more stable it will get.

this right now is just a novelty way to pay the odd bill or two for a slim margin of customers

Actually paying bills is not a novelty, it's dull. Bitcoin will soon become dull, hopefully, then it will be a success.

Payment pipeline (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 8 months ago | (#45757439)

The complete pipeline is:
You get bitcoin with the method of your choosing for your payment, send the bitcoins to Viking telecom, who'll then convert them back into local currency (apparently using bitpay to turn them into euros)

Given the current volatility of bitcoin, nobody is holding a big amount of bitcoins, but mostly buying/selling them on a "need" basis.
Don't see them as a currency, see them as a method for money exchange.

Now for the particular advantage of bitcoins:

If you live in a foreign country (but travel from/to belgium a lot and thus need a local number too, to avoid extravagant roaming costs) AND you don't have the luck of living in a SEPA country (thus don't have relatively fast bank-to-bank money transfers with relatively low fees. so you can't easily pay the bill each month by simply sending the euros from your own account), you'll have to use some payment processing.

The non bitcoin way: that would probably be using a credit card. which currently is in a quasi monopoly situation, meaning that your choice is limited to Master Card or VISA (which come with their share of problems for the merchant: like fees, and charge backs). And if you're not lucky, there might be some incompatibilities between the bank which issued your card and their payment processor (I've regularly had problems with my CC when in Italy or France).
Worse, they could do the same as every other on-line shop, and have you use PayPal (which requires you to also have an account at paypal). Which comes with even more problems (account freezing by PayPal).
Both you and the merchant have very little choice. Even if the merchant choose to support another newer less known payment processor, you would still be forced to register an account with that newer processor too (by that point, chance are the potential customer is moving to another different seller whose payment the client has an account for).
In short: both end-points of the transaction are forced to use a specific solution. And only popular solutions might be used. Freedom of choice in the method is low.

The bictoin way: the transaction it self is done with the bitcoin protocol. As long as both end point follow the bitcoin protocol, the transaction will succeed.
Your choices as a client are decoupled from the choices of the merchant.
You freely choose your way to get the bitcoins: exchanging them on an online exchange like MtGox or BTC-e, buying them online from a payment processor, directly buying them from other bitcoin users (for example, using localbitcoins to coordinate the exchange), using those you store into your own wallet (official bitcoin-qt wallet, etc.), mining them. As long it's bitcoins, and that you send them to a valid public address, (and you pay the ridiculously small fee), your transaction will succeed.
Same for the other side, the merchant choose the payment processor of its own preferences. TFA's example is bitpay, but it could have been coinbase. Or it could be any small newcomer. That doesn't change anything on the customer's hand (the customer isn't forced to use the same if he/she finds the payment processor too un-popular). As long as this payment processor provides a valid public adress, the transaction is bound to succeed.

So un-like credit cards, but like SEPA, bitcoins gives you a framework in which you have total liberty of choice at both ends (the choice of bank of the merchant doesn't influence the choice of bank of the customer, as long as both are SEPA compliant). Except that bitcoins is even faster (couple of dozens of minute, up to hours at worse-case scenario vs. a day or two, up to a couple of weeks in worse-case), and cheaper (miner fee and/or online wallet fee are in the cent range, where as SEPA payment can cost a few euros).
and bitcoin have less disadvantages (no charge backs, for example).

The same liberty of choice also will apply one day for more advanced functionnality: Even if today bitcoin is only used for direct transfers like SEPA, consider custommer protection:
- With credit cards, this is only done using chargebacks. It can get uglier when paypal is thrown in the mix. (with account freezing. Sometime for reasons as simple as "The automatic system found a suspicious transaction"). The same company (Credit Card or Pay Pal) is at the same time the judge, the jury and the executionner. Maining it can be biased and unfaire. Merchants hate it.
- With bitcoin, this could be done with the 2-out-of-3-signatures approach. The advantage is that you can agree on any 3rd signatory for the trust/validation/arbitration (not necessarily your payment provider or the other party's). And that this 3rd party can't run away with the money (as in escrow-scam. Or going "pay-pal" freezing the account).

wtf are you talking about ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45758951)

I have lived and worked abroad based in London and/or Singapore for most of the last decade and travel extensively.

I have never had a problem with the banking system or payments anywhere I have been or need to transact. If you're in a country long enough to transact frequently (to have a need of recurring payments), you can easily establish a bank account there. If you just buy top-up sims for various countries, cash is fine (and COMPLETELY anonymous unless I'm on video, unlike obviously traceable bitcoin transactions)

Credit cards work everywhere and getting cash is easy, worldwide, for any frequent traveler. Anyone who's not a frequent traveler doesn't need bitcoin anyway, as in country transactions work even better everywhere.

My bank account won't disappear because it's hacked or my drive fails and I've lost my backups.

Currency conversions do shift slowly over time but not very quickly and in general isn't much to worry about unless you're dealing with very large purchases (houses, normally). No way I'd put any sizable amount in bitcoin.

Therefore, all it is is a kind of new paypal system with which to transact. Big deal. International banking is getting more seamless every day. Rather pay a few % for all the convenience it provides.

Not my experience (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 8 months ago | (#45769825)

I have lived and worked abroad based in London and/or Singapore for most of the last decade and travel extensively.
I have never had a problem with the banking system or payments anywhere I have been or need to transact.

I'm based in an european country that would hardly be considered under-developed or problematic.
Still, whenever I'm in Italy, I'm unable to tank gaz into my car using any card at all (I suspect that the self-sevice vending machine at the gaz station insist on using the magnetic stripe, whereas my bank enforces chip+PIN only on security grounds). Same, whenever I'm in france at a ski resort, the ski-pass vending machine seem to randomly refuse some of the card.
I used to live in Germany for some time, and until I set-up a local bank account, my debit cards where randomly refused by some shop (germany still accepts signatures for debit cards, which is an absolute no-no for my local banks on obvious security grounds). That was a few year back, and my landlord's bank still wasn't SEPA-ready and transfers from my bank account had massive delays and big fees (before I left his bank deployed better SEPA compliance with lower fees and faster transaction).

Even online shopping can be problematic because lots of shops have websites in a broken way that doesn't play well with the advanced security features and protection of the credit card my bank is issuing.

cash is fine

one of the points of bitcoin and similar cryptography-based coins is to become the equivalent of cash for online transaction.

(and COMPLETELY anonymous unless I'm on video, unlike obviously traceable bitcoin transactions)

Anonymity has never been the point of bitcoin. I mean every single transaction is broadcasted to the whole network. How would you even dream of it being anonymous?! At best its pseudonymous (no clear identity for a random casual exchange, but someone with the necessary ressource, time and patience might be able to trace the transaction and eventually reveal the actual identity behind the "pseudonyme" of public hash).

Credit cards work everywhere

NOT im my experience. At least luckily, getting cash from an ATM is still a possible options as you mention (but often with fees. My cards tend to have bigger fees on withdrawal than on payment abroad).
But "cash" is only IRL. The problem is that there is currently no such things as "cash" on-line. The closest thing to it in the recent past has been PayPal, but it locks you into a single solution that everyone has to use. And comes with its own problems (account freezes is one of them).

My bank account won't disappear because it's hacked or my drive fails and I've lost my backups. {...} Currency conversions do shift slowly over time but not very quickly {...} No way I'd put any sizable amount in bitcoin.

Just the same way you wouldn't keep a massive amount of cash in a single wallet that you can lost, you should also store a big amount of bitcoins just right now.

Now with bitcoins, you still have lots of different method to store them. Lots of different models of trust, of security, etc. Lots of wallet back-up solution.
You have a relative choice of freedom (online wallet. With eventually advanced things like 2 factor indentification, 2-out-3 signatures for added security, etc. Or the official client. Or a smartphone app. Or a air gapped computer. Or paper wallet. Or physical coin. Or brain wallet. Or what ever. Etc. / Backup it your self. Use encrypted cloud storage. Use time capsule. Use a distributed RAID system such as DRDB, whatever.)
If you don't like the security offered by setup A, you're free to use a different setup B.

Also over time, as it gains more traction (either bitcoin itself or one of the numerous altcoins), it will get more used for exchange (as intended) and less for speculation. Meaning that its prices will be more dictated by overall use and market size, and less by speculation. Its price will tend to stabilize eventually over time.

Don't look at the picture today. Look at what this kind of technology can provide on the long term. That's what makes bitcoin interessting for some people.
(And the good part is that we've moved beyond simply it being an abstract concept published in some economic science thesis. It already works today and can be player with and used by people bold enough to risk a bit [or prudent enough to risk too much]. e.g.: I pay my Humble Bundles with bitcoins).

International banking is getting more seamless every day.

My experience is a mixed bag.
- SEPA payment are indeed getting easier (although they still take a few workdays at least to go through) and cheaper (though the fees are still significantly higher than cash and other).
On the other hand card AREN'T getting more seamless.
- Improving the security (an indeed welcome improvement) ends-up revealing technical flaws and problems of obsolete hardware.
In the physical world, that translates with problems like the older vending machine counting on magnetic stipes only, having problem with modern pin+CHIP-only cards.
In the online world, that translates with broken website not being compatible with latest security feature.

Therefore, all it is is a kind of new paypal system with which to transact. Big deal

Well that's the actual point of bitcoin and other alt-coins: be a new form and possibility of "online cash".

They do bring quite a few interesting new feature on the table:
- decentralised system (you can't have a single point of failure, the way that the paypal organisation is).
- less dependence on state policy (it's not 100% under the control of the monetary policy of a single state. There's no single state able to control entirely its production and use)
- lots of freedom of choice (with paypal, both ends has to choose paypal. with bitcoins each end choose its prefered payment processing)
- cryptographic security (you cite risks of losing coins or wallets to hacks or hardware failure. Please notice how these are only operational problems, not due to a fundamental flaw in the protocol itself. unlike a credit card, whose fundamental security [a number + a date + a CCV number] is a security joke, if it wasn't for the additionnal security feature added in by some banks).
- no charge backs and thus no frauds based around them (and if you need consumer protection, freedom of choice also applies to chosing protection solutions, once, once protection solutions like 2-out-of-3 starts to get some traction. And no possibility for the 3rd party escrow to run away with the money, whereas currently credit cards and paypal are judge/jury/executionner in term of charge backs).
And we're barely touching all the advanced functionality that it could bring and will get experimented over the next few years as it gains popularity.
- some relative level of privacy thanks to its pseudonymous nature (which could be increased by using more advanced techniques).
- lower fees (there's not a central agency needing to be financially supported, nor charge backs which means that both credit card/payment processor and merchant need to provision for them)
- very fast transaction (minute to a hour depending on considered alt-coin, whereas SEPA payment still take days, which isn't really practical for fast web shopping. Short time offers like Humble Bundles or Steam sale wouldn't be practical with direct SEPA payments, whereas Humble Bundle actually already works with bitcoins thanks to coinbase and transaction finishes within the timeframe of a sale. With the confirmation speed of some cryptocoins, near-creditcard speed could be easily obtained *all the while* not counting on just a few number for flawed security or on additional security provided separately by the bank).

They also have some disadvantages, but most aren't permanent:
- currently, they are not anonymous (although privacy can be increase with several methods and by following some practice)
- security risks (as said before: this is NOT due to a cryptographic flaw or some other fundamental flaw. As people create better solutions, develop newer best practice, become more security savvy, etc. security will increase over time. Unlike credit cards which are ridiculous).
- high volatility of price (over time volatility will decrease and price will stabilise, as usage increase and impact of speculation diminishes).
- as a consequence of volatility some price manipulation is still possible (the current crash could be considered as a gigantic state sponsored [although accidental] pump'n'dump event by China. They announced officially accepting them [with tons of speculator jumping in the train] then subsequently forbid financial institution using them [...need to avoid a subprime-like stupidity...] and recommending to limit their use to online shops and personnal buy/sell [with speculator jumping out and crashing the price] ) (of course as usage increases, volatility will decrease and thus the possible impact diminishes).
- difficulty in obtaining them (and that is *already* being addressed by services such as localbitcoins, for example, which help individual users to meet and trade bitcoins between them)
- scarcity of bitcoin-accepting shops (and this is progressively a diminishing problem as more shops start to accept them).
etc.

As said, most of these problems will get solved, eventually over time.

Rather pay a few % for all the convenience it provides.

Well, you're less risk-taking than me.
That's okay. you prefere following well tried methods, whereas I see that bitcoin and altcoins have some genuine advantages to bring to the table. (some of which already happen) they do address some shortcoming of current payment problem and thus are interesting to play with in the future.
Crypto-currencies might end up not being worth, but I think that it's still worth a try. and lot of people think like me. including bigplayer like TFA's exemple.

Just remember, don't risk more than you can afford to lose. be cautious.

And perhaps we will witnessing fun times as a brand new disruptive technology emerges.

Re:Too unstable (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#45759285)

if I have a recurring payment of $20, say, every month, what good is that to me if XBT have just tanked yet again and I have less than half in my wallet than I had planned for?

Ah, but that's not *their* problem, is it?

There's no downside from their point of view so long as some idiot is willing to instantly convert them to real money as you pay.

The press will publish anything with "Bitcoin" in the name at the moment, this press release is just free publicity for them.

Re:Too unstable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45755371)

I'll accept bitcoin donations, and I'll accept $5 payments in the form of bitcoin, since there's a chance I could cash out at $1000 in the next bubble.
But hell no I won't accept $1000 payments in bitcoin, since there's a chance I could cash out at $5 when the bubble pops.

Re:Too unstable (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#45755851)

If $1000 was $5t when the bubble pops, $5 would be 2.5 cents. Although $5 might not seem like a lot to lose, multiply that times the total number of transactions issued before the bubble bursts, and you could be talking about thousands of dollars instead of just five bucks.

Re:Too unstable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45756119)

"multiply that times the total number of transactions issued before the bubble bursts, and you could be talking about thousands of dollars instead of just five bucks."

You vastly over-estimate the number of people willing to pay me $5. (Hint: I'm not selling anything.)

Re:Too unstable (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 8 months ago | (#45758489)

You can't generally set a value for something of worth in bitcoin, because its value changes too much... sometimes even from one day to the next. The only way to manage it at all is to always deal in x dollars worth of bitcoin, in which case the dollar is still the currency being used.

You can. You simply fix the rate of Bitcoins to whatever the local currency you want is for that billing period.

E.g., let's say the past 30 days, bitcoin had a high of $1200 USD to a low of $200 USD and is currently $500 USD, and your phone bill is $50. Well, you could simply bill it at 0.25 BTC (1/4th of $200 is $50). That way you cover your risk of being underpaid.

Or if you're a repeated billing customer, you let them pay what they think is the right amount (e.g. 0.10BTC here) and if it's short, you just do the standard short payment routine - e.g., say it drops to $250USD when you cash out, in which case the customer owes another $25 in BTC for the next bill.

Or you do both - you win if it's too much, and you don't lose if it's too little. Chances are it's also not so simple since you'd want to build in the conversion fees as well.

And yes, "short changing" is a problem if you pay them on a Friday night and the value drops when they cash it in Monday morning.

For the more advanced ones, they may do instant transfers, where you log in to pay your bill, click Pay in BTC and they say "You must send us 0.30BTC in the next 5 minutes" to pay the bill. That too is an option if you've got a particularly advanced exchanging system. Even BTC doesn't swing too wildly in 5 minutes.

They're stupid Belgians! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45754875)

They probably thought it was real money!

Re:They're stupid Belgians! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 8 months ago | (#45755119)

They seem to think they're a real country, so it looks like they'll believe anything.

Re:They're stupid Belgians! (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 8 months ago | (#45756153)

Indeed - they too need to become expansionist Nazis, conducting covert wars on every front whilst publicly denying the whole thing - otherwise they just don't deserve to be taken seriously.

Unstable yes but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45754915)

as bitcoins become more widely accepted (further and further up the supply chain) it could very well replace the need to be locked into the value of x dollars worth of BTC. It's nowhere near there yet, but it's working it's way there, how many people even thought they would be able to pay for anything with it 4 years ago. Change is hard and slow, specially when it comes to money, the digital world is unused to such things.

Press Release for Profit (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 8 months ago | (#45754929)

I suspect any time a company/Richard Branson makes a press release validating Bitcoin, they are actually invested in Bitcoin at that moment and hoping to ride the bump of their own news before dumping the stuff. This might also apply to the press.

Re:Press Release for Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45755841)

... shrug ...

Yes - but so what? Adoption of new things comes in many shapes and sizes.

What actually matters though, is that you can now buy a ticket on a suborbital rocketship for Bitcoin.

What's the difference why they've chosen to accept it?

Re:Press Release for Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45758073)

And certain tech news sites which can't seem to let a day pass without posting a Bitcoin story.

Re:Press Release for Profit (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#45759303)

I suspect any time a company/Richard Branson makes a press release validating Bitcoin, they are actually invested in Bitcoin at that moment and hoping to ride the bump of their own news before dumping the stuff. This might also apply to the press.

It's also a load of free publicity for them because the press (and slashdot) will print anything with "Bitcoin" in the name.

Accepting Bitcoin as payment isn't a problem if you instantly exchange it for real money. The problem is in keeping Bitcoin around hoping to buy stuff with it in the future.

eg. Would you accept your monthly wages in Bitcoins at the going exchange rate when the bank transfer is made...? Didn't think so.

Free Advertising! (1)

vinehair (1937606) | about 8 months ago | (#45754941)

Slashdot continuing its trend of giving away free front-page adverts for trendy companies that are starting some random scheme that is vaguely tech-related, but wildly impractical (like most advertising-centric schemes are.)

Re:Free Advertising! (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 8 months ago | (#45754961)

So, would you rather this site just announce small commits for popular projects on github? How about new companies of the week popping up in silicon valley?

Re:Free Advertising! (1)

vinehair (1937606) | about 8 months ago | (#45754979)

Thanks for your post! [yourlogicalfallacyis.com]

Re:Free Advertising! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45756179)

Nice site - I hope it's hardened against slashdotting - it could get some serious traffic.

Re:Free Advertising! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45755879)

I wouldn't call Mobile Vikings "vaguely tech-related, but wildly impractical".

It seems quite as technical as any other Telecom. And, for those of us who have moved with the times into the realm of wireless communication, practical as well.

Mobile Vikings customer (5, Informative)

De Lemming (227104) | about 8 months ago | (#45755083)

I'm a happy Mobile Vikings customer for almost two years now, and I applaud their move to accept Bitcoin. I will be using this option from now on.

Mobile Vikings are a small, tech oriented operator. Like several small operators in Belgium they use the cell tower network of one of the 3 big operators. MV were the first in Belgium to offer a decent plan for mobile data usage, a 15 € per month prepaid formula with 2 GB data included, while other operators where still billing (a lot) per MB used. When a lot of customers switched, this forced the big operators to offer similar plans (although they still cost more).

Bitcoin is a Trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45755209)

Posting this as AC because slashdot seems to be Bitcoin friendly. But essentially it looks like a weapon to weaken governments and social services: [blogspot.com]

To editorialize briefly, BitCoin looks like it was designed as a weapon intended to damage central banking and money issuing banks, with a Libertarian political agenda in mind—to damage states ability to collect tax and monitor their citizens financial transactions.

So I hope this is not a turning point for the virtual currency.

Re:Bitcoin is a Trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45755867)

to damage states ability to collect tax and monitor their citizens financial transactions

This kind of bullshit gets thrown around alot. Actually Bitcoin is the most transparent currency there is: every transaction since the genesis is public. Follow the money has never been easier. This on the other hand is somewhat scary to me...

Re:Bitcoin is a Trap! (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 8 months ago | (#45756019)

Perhaps you should ask instead why people would *want* to damage central banking and money issuing banks. The current financial system is working, but it's also unpredictable, arbitary, openly if legally corrupt and easily abused by those in a position to do so. It's no surprise that a lot of people are coming to resent this, and are so desperate for an alternative they'll look even to something as anarchic as bitcoin.

Re:Bitcoin is a Trap! (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 8 months ago | (#45756211)

Working? [wikipedia.org] Seriously? For whom?

Re:Bitcoin is a Trap! (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 8 months ago | (#45756193)

To editorialize briefly, BitCoin looks like it was designed as a weapon intended to damage central banking and money issuing banks, with a Libertarian political agenda in mind—to damage states ability to collect tax and monitor their citizens financial transactions.

So...., it's mostly all-good then? :D

Heh. Do they also accept lottery tickets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45755211)

The way Bitcoin has gone recently, it's an even bet on whether your payments will double or halve in value over the next few weeks.

prices not in bitcoin (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 8 months ago | (#45757451)

the current canonical way use only bitcoins for the transaction it self.

the merchant still list prices in local currency, and only computes btc prices according to payment processors' exchange rates.
you buy the necessary bitcoin and avoid keeping too much change on your account if you're afraid of exchange rate instability.

some bitcoins are thus exchanged in the middle, but their value doesn't mean much as both ends still use fiat.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45755319)

Could this be the tipping point for both BitCoin and payment by mobile phone?"

Sure if done by a mobile company with more than 180,000 customers. Get back to me when someone on the scale of British Telecom, Verizon, Softbank, etc. jump on BTC.

Re:No. (1)

tinkerton (199273) | about 8 months ago | (#45759377)

Mobile Vikings appears to be small indeed. Someone had had a pressing urge to see tipping points.

Obligatory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45755437)

Stupid belgians! Bitcoin is a ponzi scheme! A pyramid!

other companies do to (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 8 months ago | (#45755519)

Perhaps not mobile, but namecheap accepts BTC.

They're taking it at the exchange rate. (2)

bstarrfield (761726) | about 8 months ago | (#45755911)

I.E. They're accepting BitCoins as a commodity, not a currency via real time exchange rate, and I wonder who pays the transaction costs for the currency exchange.

BitCoin's wild fluctuations - a result of little to no liquidity, and half of all BitCoins in circulation being owned by less than a 1,000 people - make it impractical or downright foolish to post fixed prices.

Re:They're taking it at the exchange rate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45757045)

Hate to break it to you but if you buy something from another country (with a different currency) using your local credit card, your real cost will be calculated using that day's exchange rate as well. It's not like this telecom publishes fixed prices in dollars or yens so why should they have fixed prices in bitcoins?!

Publicity stunt (1)

psymastr (684406) | about 8 months ago | (#45756461)

This is nothing more than a publicity stunt. There's no non-cumbersome way to set prices in bitcoin, as its price flunctuates wildly.

"Belgian Telecom" is other company than "Vikings" (2)

Moskit (32486) | about 8 months ago | (#45756597)

Belgian Telecom is one company.
Mobile Vikings is another company.

Title is confusing, editors did not do a proper job there.

Re:"Belgian Telecom" is other company than "Viking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45756641)

All you had to do is simply read the first 4 words of the summary and 3rd grade level reading comprehension.

Re:"Belgian Telecom" is other company than "Viking (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 8 months ago | (#45758335)

Can't blame the editors for not being fully up-to-date with Belgium's telecom landscape. Especially not when some company decides to call themselves "Belgian Telecom", simply inviting confusion. It's quite normal to say "that company is a Belgian telecom company" as it is normal to call a company an "American telecom company" or so.

That said I was not for any second confused. Most of the world will not know about that company named "Belgian Telecom", and not be confused. Possibly a large part of Belgians is not even confused. With your confusion, you're almost certainly a tiny, tiny minority here - reflecting at least as much on you, as on the editors you so despise.

Re:"Belgian Telecom" is other company than "Viking (1)

Moskit (32486) | about 8 months ago | (#45759067)

_Can_ blame editors for not being up to date with English though. Editors are people supposed to make sure the summary is not confusing, and paid for that.

It was enough to title story "A Belgian Telecom..." (which implies one of many Belgian telecom companies) instead of "Belgian Telecom" (which is a specific company, Belgian Telecom).

Telecom name is also not confusing by far. In European countries telecom providers held monopoly for a long time, and such companies were simply called "Belgian Telecom", "Deutsche Telecom", "France Telecom", "Polish Telecom", "Makedonski Telecom", "British Telecom", "Magyar Telecom", "OtherCountry Telecom". Basic fact, google or wikipedia it.

Today many of them still hold these names, and for people in Europe "Country Telecom" means a very specific company.

I also welcome your personal comment about "reflecting on you". Nothing like turning proffessional matter (ability of paid editors to provide proper information) into a personal matter. I am glad to have been instructed and enlightened on why your point of view should prevail.

Re:"Belgian Telecom" is other company than "Viking (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 8 months ago | (#45759643)

Headlines do normally not use articles. And that's not just in English.

Re:"Belgian Telecom" is other company than "Viking (1)

GNious (953874) | about 8 months ago | (#45758961)

Does it matter? Telecoms, like public transit and other activities, is an area where Belgians are, beyond question, incompetent to a degree that you'd be inclined to argue must be due to malice....

Re:"Belgian Telecom" is other company than "Viking (1)

Moskit (32486) | about 8 months ago | (#45759071)

It does matter.

Last time I was in Belgium Telecom, public transport and other activities (brewing real beer) were handled competently. I am inclined to argue that your comment must be due to malice...

Re:"Belgian Telecom" is other company than "Viking (1)

GNious (953874) | about 8 months ago | (#45765349)

Public Transport:
* Weekly delays on trains (I took a train to work daily for some years)
* City-busses not showing up when going to/from schools (supposedly runs every 6-8 minutes - 40 minutes without any busses)
* Ticketing system that several times has required using 2 tickets to open the new gates
* Gates at metro-station refusing to let people out, or slammed shut on an old woman (employees ignored the incident)
* Semi-regular cancellations or closed stations on metro

Phones:
* Belgacom spending 1.5 month repeatedly failing to correctly reroute a phone-number
* Phone/internet/IPTV failing at least once monthly for hours, for no apparent reason
* Having to plead with telecoms to get a technician to come correct their installations
* Cellphones (plural) not able to receive calls due to yet-another-outage
* Home-phone randomly switching number whenever someone on the local road moves in/out

Over the last 7 years, the number of issues in especially these areas have been staggering, and year-on-year I have more issues with phones/cellphones/internet than i ever had in total in my home-country. No malice, they are really either incompetent or sabotaging themselves.

Re:"Belgian Telecom" is other company than "Viking (1)

Moskit (32486) | about 8 months ago | (#45767427)

Things seem to have really gone down since my experiences then.

As I look at your list though, it looks familiar though. Almost as if modern systems get too complicated to operate nominally.

Re:"Belgian Telecom" is other company than "Viking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45765953)

There is no company called "Belgian Telecom", nor is there a "Belgium Telecom".

A company exists that is named "Belgacom", and the federal state of Belgium has the majority stake in it.

regulation & banning will be "tipping point" (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#45757431)

the fall of bitcoin has already started, it will be regulated, taxed in some places and banned into oblivion in others. the big sell-off is coming soon.

Re: regulation & banning will be "tipping poin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45758301)

Lol, I'm waiting for the price to go down as well but only so I can buy more. I wish you were more notable so I could trot out this quote in several decades like the many other classic examples of incorrect pessimism.

Re: regulation & banning will be "tipping poin (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#45760189)

I'll agree the idea is great but the banking cartels and governments under their control (all western first world countries) are scumbags. they won't let it endure.

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