In what its backers are calling “potentially a world first for a major grocery retailer”, shoppers were for a “limited time” able to pay for their groceries using bitcoin at a Pick n Pay retail store in Cape Town.
In a statement posted on its website, Cape Town-based specialist software payments development house Electrum, said customers at Pick n Pay’s campus store at its head office were able to use the bitcoin cryptocurrency to purchase groceries and services.
“The checkout process is as simple as scanning a QR code using a bitcoin wallet app on the customer’s smartphone,” the statement said. See demonstration video from Electrum below.
The checkout process is as simple as scanning a QR code using a bitcoin wallet app on the customer’s smartphoneIt quoted the retailer’s information systems executive Jason Peisl as saying that although bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “still relatively new payment concepts”, Pick n Pay has been able to “effectively demonstrate how we are able to accept such alternative payments”.
Pick n Pay did not say when or even if it planned to expand the pilot to other stores. However, Pick n Pay deputy CEO Richard van Rensburg has subsequently told Business Day that the retailer doesn’t expect to begin accepting bitcoin in the near term. He said the trial has since ended.
“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,” Van Rensburg is quoted as having said. “We have proved to ourselves, though, that it is technically possible to roll out a solution very quickly.”
Electrum provided the cloud-based enterprise payments platform used for the transactions, while the bitcoin infrastructure for the project was provided by Luno, a bitcoin company active in Southeast Asia and Africa, and with an office in Cape Town.
According to Electrum’s website, major major retailers and financial institutions use the company’s technology to accept payments, process loyalty transactions and provide value-added services. Its customers include two out of Africa’s top three retailers.
By Duncan Mcleod for TechCentral