Japan's third-largest electricity supplier appears as one of the first major companies in the world to test a promising bitcoin payment technology.
Revealed exclusively at CoinDesk, Chubu Electric Power Co. has entered a proof of concept with Nayuta, Bitcoin's local start-up and Internet of Things (IoT), who is discovering how bitcoin payments can be made via the Lightning network. , a development protocol that promises to reduce costs for bitcoin users.
With 15,000 employees and more than 200 power generation facilities, Chubu now uses Lightning to develop a new way to let customers pay to charge an electric vehicle.
In a demonstration of his work, Chubu and Nayuta went on to show how a Lightning payment could be sent to an electric vehicle charger that, once paid, would turn on instantly and begin to power a real vehicle.
Hidehiro Ichikawa, director of Chubu Electric Power Co., told CoinDesk that the test was part of the company's "market research" on how bitcoin could fuel its IoT needs, but it did not still officially accepted Lightning. customer payments.
In this way, the story of Chubu resonates with others enchanted by cryptocurrences but frustrated by their current abilities. It should be noted that Chubu is experimenting with Bitcoin for IoT recently, but had to deal with a wake-up call when he realized that his blockchain was not as cheap as it was announced. .
Ichikawa tells CoinDesk:
"Since the tax on electricity is low, [Lightning’s] is needed to reduce the cost of using public blockchains."
Nayuta's CEO, Kenichi Kurimoto, believes that this test is the sign of a more significant change – the company's interest in using Bitcoin to provide IoT payments cost-effectively with Lightning.
"For IoT and blockchain applications, real-time payments are needed We have shown that second-layer payments can be the solution," he said.
Lightning + Electricity = <3
But it was not just Chubu and Nayuta involved in the test.
To show how Lightning can work for IoT, the two companies hooked up a Lightning node to an electronic vehicle charger and plugged it into a car. From there, they also enlisted the Japanese startup software Infoteria, which coded a mobile application to put the user experience together.
Once you click the "Send" button, the app communicates with the charger via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which transmits the message and turns on.
You can see how it works in the Nayuta video below:
Notably, the companies involved did not use the actual bitcoin in the test, as other "reckless" experimenters have done recently. Instead, they sent a dummy bitcoin to a closed test network over which they have more control.
Aside from these details, the test was successful, showing that Lightning can actually make small instant payments for charging electric vehicles.
Nayuta's spokesman, Hitomi Moriyama, went on to say that he believes that the same facility might one day be offered in daily parking lots. Users could easily use Bitcoin Lightning payments to recharge their car, just as these chargers are recharged with credit cards today.
"[Lightning] makes it possible to operate a very reliable load management system with a low introductory cost," he said.
Impact and Prospects
Yet while the test mirrors those that took place on other blockchains, this one is perhaps noteworthy given the size and scope of Chubu and the ongoing commitment certain parties involved.
As Mr. Ichikawa pointed out, Chubu 's experience is still a first proof of concept, and he was short of details on how this could affect the product of the. business as well as how much money he pays into the project.
That said, Nayuta plans to continue to devote all of its activity to the pursuit of exploration.
"We will continue to develop and experiment to find what kind of architecture is best for applying Lightning Network for IoT," Moriyama told CoinDesk.
Kurimoto added that Nayuta is now working to ensure the compatibility of its software with the other three major implementations of Lightning software that are the most widely used today.
For the future, Kurimto said that he has introduced his team to the Lightning developer mailing list with the aim of working more closely on the business applications of technology.
Dashboard image of electric vehicle via Shutterstock