Top South African retailer Pick n Pay embraces crypto payments

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 South African retailer Pick n Pay  has started to accept cryptocurrency payments at some of its tills on Tuesday, saying  it was planning to extend the system to all its stores.

Weeks after the country’s financial watchdog declared crypto assets a financial product, supermarket chain Pick n Pay said it was expanding a pilot allowing shoppers to pay for their groceries with bitcoin. 

“The retailer has now extended the pilot to a further 29 stores for testing with customers, with the intention to roll it out to all stores in the coming months,” the company said in a statement. 

Pick n Pay is South Africa’s second-largest grocery retailer with more than 500 supermarkets. It is also found in other southern African countries such as Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia and Mauritius.

The pilot launched five months ago initially included 10 locations.

“Increasingly 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,” Pick n Pay said in a statement.

The move comes two weeks after the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) declared cryptocurrency a financial product, paving way for the regulation of the assets in the Africa’s most advanced economy.

Financial institutions and watchdogs around the world have been grappling with how to regulate digital currencies.

Under the system piloted by Pick n Pay, in partnership with crypto firms Electrum and CryptoConvert, customers can pay with bitcoin at till points through a smartphone app. 

CryptoConvert’s founder Carel van Wyk told AFP the grocery store was the first large South African retailer to adopt the technology. 

Other systems normally allow consumers to use cryptocurrencies to buy gift cards or vouchers rather than pay directly at the cashier.  

“Crypto payments are still in their infancy in South Africa, but we are already seeing adoption in parts of our society that haven’t previously had access to traditional financial systems,” van Wyk said. 

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