French tobacco shops to sell Bitcoin vouchers next year

Written by: Michael Harris
March 11, 2020

French tobacco shops will start selling Bitcoins (BTC) from early next year, news agency Reuters has reported.

According a Reuters report, published earlier today, French fintech company Keplerk has secured a deal with a local cash register software provider to give tobacco shops the possibility to sell vouchers, which can then be used to obtain BTC via Keplerk’s own digital wallet service.

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“Tobacco shop owners are the best channel as they are trusted by customers and they are used to sell vouchers such as credit for mobile phones,” Adil Zakhar, Keplerk’s director for strategy and development, said, as quoted by Reuters.

France has some 24,000 tobacco shops, but, according to some reports, around 3,000–4,000 of these outlets will initially sell Bitcoin vouchers. Others will likely be added in time. Keplerk will be charging a 7% commission on every transaction.

Notably, the initiative is not supported by French regulators. The country’s central bank yesterday said in a statement that it does not supervise the project.

“Those are purely speculative assets and not currencies. Those who invest in bitcoin or other crypto-assets do it at their own risk,” the central bank also said in the statement.

While Keplerk claims that the deal means that French tobacco shops will be the first brick and mortar shops to sell bitcoins anywhere in the world, others have already made moves to offer physically-sold cryptocurrencies. Last year, Austrian Bitcoin broker Bitpanda launched paper vouchers, which were offered at postal branches of the Austrian Post and could be redeemed for crypto on the company’s website. Four digital coins – Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash and Litecoin – were supported on launch.

According to Bitpanda’s website, the list of supported cryptocoins has since been greatly expanded and currently includes 19 digital coins, Ripple, Cardano and EOS being among the new additions. The vouchers are available in “over 400 Post branches and about 1350 Post partners throughout Austria”, the website currently states.

Bitpanda was not the first company to move in this space, as French Bitcoin broker Bitit launched a similar product in 2016.