Popularly termed as “tabacs” – The French Tobacco shops, have started selling Bitcoin. Close to 24 tobacco shops have started selling bitcoin coupons in Paris, the French Capital.
This arrangement has been possible, thanks to the Parisian FinTech start-up, Keplerk. Reuters, on January 9, published a report stating six tabacs entering into the Bitcoin sale business. Keplerk is supporting the sale of bitcoin in such stores. The stores received regulatory approval for the cryptocurrency sales late last year.
In November 2018, Keplerk had entered into a partnership with six ‘tabac’ centers across the French capital. This association would mean that those who were involved in sales of tobacco will now also be involved in the sale of Bitcoin vouchers, in the form of gift cards, that can be redeemed at any time into digital currency through Keplerk’s crypto wallet.
As per the statement was given by one of the co-founders of Keplerk, Adil Zakhar, the count of tobacco stores selling Bitcoin would reach 100 by the end of the current week. He further added that in order to open more avenues for the people to get into the crypto space, Keplerk is targeting to enroll more than 6500 licensed shops within their network within starting of the coming month.
There are around 24000 licensed tobacco shops in Paris. Such stores are already selling a variety of products including cigars, cigarettes and lottery tickets and are exploring new avenues regularly such as prepaid credit cards, cellphone credits, and money transfer services to compensate for the fall in revenue due to declining tobacco sales.
Zakhar stated to the Reuters that “Some people find it complicated to get Bitcoins online. They trust their local tobacco shop owner more than they would trust some remote anonymous website.”
Currently, a customer can buy Bitcoin vouchers from these shops in three denominations – 50 euros, 100 euros and 250 euros ($57, $114 and $286). The user would receive a ticket which would contain an alphanumeric code and a QR code. The Buyers then need to visit the Keplerk website to convert these vouchers into cryptocurrency of an equivalent amount. Currently, it can be converted into either of bitcoin core or Ethereum. The tobacco shop owner receives a commission of 1.25 percent for such sales and the user is charged a fee of 7 percent.
Apparently, due to the current legal status of Keplerk, the French regulators are in a dilemma with respect to the success of such an association. The public limited company, PAYSAFEBIT SASU, which has invested in Keplerk, has apparently received an operational approval from the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF).
As per the statement released by the French regulator, it was somewhat skeptical about the company’s liquidity status. The regulator stated “Its distribution by a public limited company, PAYSAFEBIT SASU with a capital of 50,000 Euros, using the trade name KEPLERK, which does not have any authorization or approval by a French or foreign authority, is not likely to provide any guarantee to the customer base. “
Such confusion in question is due to the unregulated status of Cryptocurrency in France. Previously, the government had announced two regulations that spoke on blockchain technology, but these are the only two measures taken by the Government so far. Further, AMF has been constantly giving warning to the investors with respect to the inherent risk associated with trading in cryptos and had also stated that the AMF does not consider cryptos as a form of financial instruments.