Chubu, Japan’s Third Largest Electric Company Tests Blockchain, and IoT Technology

Chubu, Japan’s 3rd largest electricity provider, has announced that they will use Bitcoin’s blockchain based payments technology to help users purchase electricity. This information was revealed exclusively on CoinDesk and marks an interesting change in crypto history.

chubu bitcoinChubu Electric Power Co created a proof-of-concept with a local IoT (Internet of T) and blockchain based startup Nayuta. The company explores how Bitcoin payments are utilized via Lightning Network, a developing protocol that aims to reduce transaction and payment costs when using Bitcoin.

With over 200 power generating facilities and 15,000 employees, Chubu uses Lightning to create a new way for customers to pay to charge up an electric vehicle.

In a presentation of their idea to infuse blockchain and IoT technology, Chubu and Nayuta shown the audience how a Lightning payment is delivered to an electric vehicle charger. Once the payment transaction was completed, the charger turned on instantly and started to provide energy to a fully functional electric vehicle.

Hidehiro Ichikawa, Chubu Electric Power Company’s manager, stated that their test is part of their company’s research to see how Bitcoin works with the IoT market. He also noted that it doesn’t have official plans to use Lightning as a main source of payment as of yet.

In this scenario, Chubu’s story is similar to those who are enhanced by cryptocurrency but limited by their current capabilities. Chubu experimented with Bitcoin infused with IoT for over 3 years but experienced an issue when they discovered their blockchain platform isn’t as inexpensive as advertised.

Ichikawa announced to CoinDesk, “Since there is a small charge of electricity. Lightning has to reduce their fees for public blockchains”. Kenichi Kurimoto, the CEO of Nayuta states that their test is a sign for something larger – a widespread interest in utilizing Bitcoin’s blockchain to conduct IoT transactions using Lightning but make it cost-effective for the general audience.

Electric Cars + Lightning  = Decentralized Electric Car Charging

To show how Lightning can work with IoT, the companies installed an electric vehicle charger to a Lightning node that was plugged into a car. Then, they enlisted a Japanese software startup Infoteria, who created a mobile and decentralized app to improve the user experience and make it easier for them to charge their cars via Lightning.

chubu tests lightningWhen the user clicks “Send,” the app connects to the electric charger through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which tells the system the message and powers on the charging station.

Notably, Nayuta and Chubu refused to use real Bitcoin to test their charging prototype, as other entrepreneurs have done lately. Instead, they used fake Bitcoins on a test network where it can be controlled.

As a result, the test was a success. It showed that Lightning could be used to make instant payments to charge electric vehicles. Hitomi Moriyama, Nayuta’s spokesperson, stated that the set-up could be used for everyday parking lots. Consumers could use Lightning and Bitcoin payments to add power to their car. This is similar to how electric chargers use credit cards for more energy today.

“[Lightning] allows users to operate on an efficient charging system at a low cost,” he said.

What’s Next?

While there have been thousands of tests in regards to Bitcoin and IoT technology, this is the most notable due to Chubu’s scope and size and the continuous commitment of the companies involved with the project.

Nayuta continues to use their coding development to ensure that their application is compatible with Lightning’s top three applications. It will be interesting to see how this project grows as it will help users utilize their car payments through the use of cryptocurrency.

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