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).