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Pick n Pay Double Take? The Supermarket Chain Isn't Accepting Bitcoin, It Tested It

South Africa’s second-largest supermarket chain tested bitcoin payments earlier this year – but it doesn’t plan to roll out the option to its stores anytime soon, according to its CEO.

Pick n Pay, which operates in a number of African countries as well as South Africa, piloted a payment system in partnership with startups Electrum and Luno. That initiative was limited to a staff cafeteria, CEO Richard van Rensburg told BusinessDay in an interview, and is no longer active.

As for when the supermarket chain might expand the option to an actual storefront, van Rensburg demurred, pointing to a difficult regulatory environment as the root cause for heistation.

He told the publication:

“We don’t expect that in the near term accepting bitcoin will unlock any significant new business and we are unlikely to roll out the solution until the payments industry and regulatory authorities have established a framework for managing the risks associated with cryptocurrencies.”

That said, van Rensburg struck a positive note about the trial itself and the potential benefits to supermarket operators like Pick n Pay.

“We have proved to ourselves, though, that it is technically possible to roll out a solution very quickly,” he added.

News that Pick n Pay was even considering a bitcoin payment option spread earlier this week, leading to inaccurate reports that the supermarket chain was rolling out a fully-fledged payment option. The company confirmed to tech blog MyBroadband that that it wasn’t accepting bitcoin at any of its stores.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Luno. 

Image via Shutterstock

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South Africa Pick n Pay Online Retailer to Accept Bitcoin

In what is called one of the largest wins for Bitcoin in the country, the Pick n Pay in Cape Town will accept the cryptocurrency for payments starting today. 

The payment system is being powered by Electrum, a software platform created to process payments in different currencies. Jason Peisl, IS executive at Pick n Pay, said:

“At Pick n Pay one of our key values is to embrace change and encourage innovation and leadership. Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin are still relatively new payment concepts, yet we have been able to effectively demonstrate how we are able to accept such alternative payments.”

Widening Acceptance

As the growth in payment methodologies continues, the overall currency value of Bitcoin continues to grow as well. This is a critical aspect of increasing mainstream acceptance, and increasing liquidity as well. 

Liquidity and mainstream acceptance produce greater levels of awareness, and therefore greater levels of use. This process has been referred to as a ‘virtuous satoshi cycle.’  Despite substantial negative news, acceptance appears to be growing for Bitcoin.