Cryptocurrency users have found it difficult to make use of digital currency for retail shopping. Worldline, a major payment infrastructure provider of Europe, has decided to collaborate with Bitcoin Suisse, a financial services firm, which would facilitate crypto users to spend their Bitcoins in retail shops in Switzerland. Worldline had already taken over SIX Payment Services, which is an arm of the Swiss stock exchange group that deals with payment card terminals in almost 85,000 Swiss retail outlets. This infrastructure, coupled with digital currencies, would be welcomed by cryptocurrency enthusiasts who would now find spending in retail outlets easier than before.
This Worldline and Bitcoin Suisse deal is expected to be quite a significant one as it would bring in the use of digital currency into the fold of the Swiss retail sector and popularize it in mainstream retail. The French firm has signed a ‘letter of intent’ with Bitcoin Suisse, which would act as a transition agreement between the two, which would facilitate the conversion of Bitcoin into Swiss franc. This can be utilized for payment of various goods and services from retailers and would thus, put Bitcoins to more conventional use. The collaboration is still in a nascent stage, with a pilot project having been planned for 2020. The partnership has not yet gone live, but once it does, it would determine the number of retail merchants who are interested in signing. If the project proves to be a success, the company has plans to launch the services in other European countries as well.
Similar services have been launched earlier in Switzerland, when Digitec Galaxus, the country’s largest online retailer, partnered with Datatrans, an e-payment specialist and Coinify, a Danish crypto firm to enable cryptocurrency holders to use their coins for payment in retail. Few businesses and retailers have also adopted the ‘Swiss Inapay system,’ one among which was Dolder Grand, a luxury hotel. This system enables merchants to accept payments through cryptocurrency by avoiding the hassle of having to handle it. The CEO of Swiss Crypto Tokens, a division of Bitcoin Suisse, Armin Schmid, has pointed out that “the latest crypto retail payments offering will most likely start life as an e-payments service.” He further added,
A mass roll out of cryptocurrency retail payments is only possible with the involvement of big players such as Worldline. Many Swiss retailers adopted Alipay to meet demand from customers. We believe our service will create demand for cryptocurrency payments.
Schmid believes that the new services would prove to be useful for retailers and would encourage them further, although the scale is yet to be expanded. Schmid has worked for Swiss Payment services and Paypal earlier and in his estimate, merchants would incur the same costs that they did while accepting credit or debit cards. The fee structure for utilizing the service has not yet been determined and as of now, Bitcoins would be largely used, while other cryptocurrency options would be eventually added. However, the use of cryptocurrencies for everyday payments also relies on easing ‘exchange rate volatility with traditional currencies’ and this would make their use more popular.