German start-up Satimoto integrated more than 24,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across Europe over the past three months, allowing users to pay for power using Bitcoin in an increasingly connected world.
The company said in a tweet that “we currently have 24,227 charge points listed” in several European countries. Around 8,898 “are experimental”, it added.
“All can be paid for by streaming sats over the Lightning Network,” said Satimoto, in reference to the payments layer on Bitcoin (BTC).
“Still in early testing, we’re checking operator integration and proper functioning.” Sats is short for “satoshis”, the smallest denomination of BTC, equal to 100 millionth of a Bitcoin.
We currently have 24227 charge points listed, of which 8898 are experimental. All can be paid for by streaming sats over the Lightning Network!
Still in early testing, we're checking operator integration and proper functioning.
We're very grateful to our eager testers! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/fAP20obmL8
— Satimoto | EV charging with ⚡️ (@SatimotoApp) December 12, 2022
What is Satimoto?
Satimoto self-describes as “a non-custodial mobile lightning application”. It is a combination of the Lightning wallet and a charging app, founder Ross Savage told MetaNews. The app has basic functionalities like sending or receiving lightning payments.
The charging side of the app shows the nearest available charge point to a user. When selecting a charge point, it displays the price to charge in satoshis and the option to start or stop the charging session if the charge point has that capability.
Savage said he started Satimoto in order to protect individual privacy – a key tenet of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
He became disillusioned with both charge point operators and e-mobility service providers, who routinely demanded personal data to “give you access to use their charge points.”
“I just wanted to see the prices and not give away my privacy,” Savage, a long-time Bitcoin enthusiast, said by email.
“Satimoto is an application that utilizes the Lightning Network [to] offer a service that is anonymous. You don’t need to sign up, give personal information or credit card details.”
Savage explained that Satimoto provides “a payment solution where you can stream Bitcoin (satoshis) as you are charging your vehicle.” The app avoids settling via traditional payment platforms such as VISA or MasterCard.
“So we don’t have to pay the processing fees of 1-3% to reconcile payments,” he said. “We can pass on these cost savings to our users offering a service with lower commission.”
EV charging with Bitcoin ‘feels great’
Bitcoin user Joko tested the Satimoto app in Germany in November. He told MetaNews that “using Bitcoin to charge my car feels great.”
“I always try to use Bitcoin as a payment method whenever possible. Here it actually gives me a benefit,” explained Joko, who also works with Swiss hardware wallet Shift. He added:
“I don’t need to sign up to dozens of charging cards, providing them all with my know-your customer (KYC) data. With Satimoto, I can just load up my wallet with sats and start charging.”
Joko paid 2,500 sat per kilowatt hour (kWh) to charge his car for 1-2 minutes during the beta test last month. That’s about 42 cents per kWh in U.S. dollar terms.
“The experience was great for a beta test – and it immediately worked,” Joko stated. However, Satimoto could not have escaped the inevitable teething problems of a new system.
“Afterwards there was an error that needed to be resolved,” said Joko. “But nothing that put my funds at risk. If you consider that it’s a lightning node on your phone that let’s you hold your own funds, it’s really impressive.”
Satimoto admitted at the time “there is an issue doing a remote stop which will be patched in a hotfix.”
Just charged my car with Bitcoin on a public charger! ⚡️
– No registration
– Instant payment via lightning
— Joko ⚡️ (@jokoono) November 30, 2022
The future of a connected world
Sales of electric vehicles have risen throughout the world as demand for alternatives to diesel and petrol cars grows. But there is a lag in terms of providing charging points. Moreso, those that let motorists use Bitcoin, the most valuable cryptocurrency, for payment.
User adoption of Bitcoin, its payments layer the Lightning Network, and electric vehicles are at the lower end of an adoption S-curve. Ross Savage sees a future where BTC and Lightning payments will become more common with further integration into point-of-sale devices.
“We wish to pave the way alongside other service providers and charge point operators to integrate Bitcoin/Lightning network as the rails for payment between entities. And as a physical means of payment for the user at the charge point,” he detailed.
He hopes that charge point operators incorporating Bitcoin and the Lightning Network into their payment systems will be able to reconcile payments instantly. That compares with the 30 to 60 days it currently takes to do so.
“Removing this payment lag has a huge credit or risk reduction benefit for an operator and could offer considerably lower tariffs for us. These lower tariffs would also pass on to our users,” said the Satimoto founder.