A first! Pick n Pay moves to add cryptocurrency as a payment option in stores

Its official! One of the largest retailers in South African will now allow transactions via cryptocurrency.

In a statement on Tuesday, Pick n Pay said that the move was done to allow millions of South Africans to have access to crypto.

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The company said that it will now allow customers to pay using cryptocurrency on their smartphones using a trusted app. It is now testing it in more stores.

“While for many years crypto was something for specialists on their computers or used by early adopters trying it out, things are changing. The Financial Sector Conduct Authority’s (FSCA) recent announcement paves the way for cryptocurrency as a mainstream method of payment,” the company said.

The South African Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Kuben Naidoo told Reuters in May that the regulation of crypto assets was in the offing and might come into force within nine to 15 months after regulators said they intended to do so in November 2020.

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Pick n Pay said that additionally, the company saw that “cryptocurrency is being used by those under-served by traditional banking systems, or by those wanting to pay and exchange money in a cheaper and really convenient way. Many companies are responding to this by accepting Bitcoin.”

It should be noted that in its latest pilot, Pick n Pay “tested a payment service technology that enables customers to buy groceries with cryptocurrency at till points with any Bitcoin Lightning-enabled app”.

Examples of these apps include BlueWallet and Muun.

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IT IS EASY AND SECURE

Pick n Pay said that the crypto transaction is as easy and secure as swiping a debit or credit card.

It should also be noted that customers can “scan a QR code from the app and accept the rand conversion rate on their smartphone at the time of the transaction”.

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WHAT IS THE SERVICE FEE?

The retailer did note that there would be a service fee but advised that this fee is minimal, and would cost the shopper, on average, 70 cents and takes less than 30 seconds.

STARTED FROM A PILOT PROGRAMME

Pick n Pay said they ran a crypto pilot programme in 10 Western Cape stores over the past five months with pre-selected testers.

Some of these stores include “Bitcoin Ekasi in Mossel Bay, which pays non-profit organisation The Surfer Kids coaches in Bitcoin while simultaneously onboarding township vendors to accept Bitcoin as payment.”

“As the local Pick n Pay store now accepts Bitcoin, the coaches and children can spend their earnings more widely and conveniently than before.”

The retailer has now extended the pilot to a further 29 stores for testing with customers.

HERE ARE A LIST OF THE STORES:

  • Langeberg Mall, Mosselbay
  • Sedgefield
  • Stellenbosch Central and Stellenbosch Square
  • Paarl Mall
  • Willowbridge
  • Local Big Bay
  • Table Bay Mall
  • Cavendish
  • Kenilworth
  • Kenilworth Campus
  • Kenilworth Pam Golding
  • Seapoint
  • Waterfront
  • Mall of Africa
  • Mall of the North
  • Mall of the South
  • Menlyn Mall
  • Nelspruit
  • PnP on Nicol
  • Liberty Midlands Mall
  • The Pavilion
  • Tshwane Mall
  • Beacon Bay
  • Uitenhage
  • Bedfordview
  • Centurion
  • Fourways Mall
  • PnP Qualisave Carlton Centre
  • PnP Qualisave Diepsloot
  • PnP Qualisave Midrand
  • PnP Qualisave Rustenburg
  • PnP Qualisave Commercial Road
  • PnP Qualisave North Beach
  • PnP Qualisave The Workshop
  • PnP Qualisave Goodwood
  • Hyper Bloemfontein
  • Hyper Durban North
  • Hyper Northgate
  • Hyper Ottery

The hope is that Pick n Pay will roll out this process in all its stores in the coming months.

“This new technology means we can provide an affordable service for high volume, low-value transactions that will promote financial inclusion in South Africa,” says Chris Shortt, Group Executive – Information and Technology.

HAVE YOUR SAY

KNOW THE RISKS

Wiehann Olivier, a Partner and Digital Asset Lead at Mazars, says South Africans should embrace cryptocurrencies but understand the risks.

In terms of investing in cryptocurrency, Olivier says that “any physical, intangible, financial or non-financial investment has an element of risk associated with it, and an investor can either accept the risk, try to mitigate it or avoid it entirely”.

Olivier adds, however, to do any of these, the risks must first be understood.

“The same applies to the investment of digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, where investors have been able to generate significant returns through various revenue streams including trading, decentralised finance (DeFi) and arbitrage opportunities”, he argues.

Olivier goes on to caution that “cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile assets and are well-known for their ability to generate potentially high returns, which could just as easily result in significant losses”.

At 12:30, Bitcoin share price was $20 591 (R373 444).

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