In a minor boost to the adoption and use of cryptocurrencies in France, tobacco retailers in the country are now authorized to sell bitcoin from January 2019.
Under the supervision of the Banque de France, the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution – ACPR), monitors the transactions performed by banks and insurance companies in France. And now, the ACPR has officially granted permission to the French Federation of Tobacco Vendors (French Confédération Nationale des Buralistes), to begin selling bitcoin from the start of 2019.
From January 2019, out of the 27,000 retailers in the country, 3,000⎯4,000 tobacco shops will be equipped with the software required to sell prepaid Bitcoin coupons to their customers. The software will be installed in the remaining tobacconists gradually. Initially, the buyers will be allowed to purchase bitcoin worth 50, 100, and 250 euro bitcoin coupons.
The program is being carried out as part of an agreement between KeplerK (a Paris-based digital asset wallet and payment platform) and Bimedia (a platform providing payment terminals for the tobacco selling establishments).
The purchased coupons will be convertible to bitcoins, ethereum, or another encrypted currency on the KeplerK website, the provider of this service. Customers will need to enter a code on the KeplerK website, and then they will receive the equivalent amount of bitcoin in a wallet that Kepler K provides. The fintech company has a mobile application downloadable on App Store and Play Store. Reportedly, KeplerK is also looking to offer an exchange service where clients can change their cryptocurrencies for fiat money. This, however, has not yet been confirmed.
According to Keplerk, the project will initially charge a 7% commission fee on every transaction.
Commenting on the development, Adil Zakhar, Director for Strategy and Development, Keplerk said, “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.”
The central bank of France, however, clarified that the permission was granted to the tobacconists by the ACPR in an independent capacity and it should in no way be considered as the apex bank endorsing cryptocurrencies. And that, it still maintains it speculative attitude towards the crypto industry. In a statement the Banque de France stated,
“Those are purely speculative assets and not currencies. Those who invest in bitcoin or other crypto-assets do it at their own risk.”
According to the 2018 Tobacco Atlas, French nationals consume an average of 1089 cigarettes per year per person.
The grant of permission to sell bitcoins is a vital indicator of the growing popularity and acceptance for cryptocurrency and blockchain in France. The reason why ACPR acceded to the demands of the tobacco vendors’ federation is simple. The regulator had no other choice. “Cryptocurrency is becoming a global currency, and it is better to accompany this inevitable movement as well as market and consumer demand,” it said.
Philippe Coy, President of the French Federation of Tobacco Vendors, claims that the permission will go a long way in upgrading the tobacco business. The integration of the crypto and tobacco sectors “brings us closer to modern times of consumption, and brings us closer to the consumers,” he remarked.