PostFinance’s innovation lab, which was founded in 2015 and now has eight employees, develops projects that support the digital transformation – sometimes outside its core business. Blockchain technology is one of the focal points: how can it be harnessed for novel business models? How can it be used profitably in the accounting of goods and services? This is where the pilot project “Blockchain for Utility” (or “B4U”), developed in cooperation with Energie Wasser Bern (ewb), comes in. The goal is to simplify energy billing for customers, such as homeowners with solar generators.
Simple and efficient electricity billing
PostFinance is following the development of blockchain technology with great interest. In 2018, together with Energie Wasser Bern (ewb), it launched the blockchain-based pilot project “B4U” for simple and efficient electricity billing.
Decentralized, efficient and secure
“Until now, electricity could only be billed by the central energy provider,” says PostFinance project manager Matthias Egli, explaining the background to the project. “Due to the energy act that came into force in 2018, homeowners with photovoltaic systems are now allowed to use the electricity they produce themselves directly, and to charge their tenants for it. To make billing economically viable and efficient, an automated process is required.”
Working with ewb, PostFinance developed a solution that enables simple and efficient billing. It links intelligent electricity meters in households to the blockchain, automatically records consumption and production data and uses it for billing. “It allows us to provide our customers with a secure, efficient tool that can also be easily linked to their PostFinance account,” says Egli.
Investigating other uses
For PostFinance, the “B4U” pilot project launched in 2018 is an opportunity to partner with additional energy providers, gain experience with blockchain-based payment and billing solutions, and look for other opportunities for use outside the energy sector.