South African food retailer, Pick n Pay, has announced that it will start accepting Bitcoin payments in 39 stores across major cities before gradually rolling out the feature to all of its 2,000 branches in the coming months. 

The new payment gateway will allow customers to pay for groceries and other daily goods with Bitcoin. In return, the retailer charges a small service fee, around 70c in the local currency or $0.04.

“The transaction is as easy and secure as swiping a debit or credit card,” said Pick n Pay. “Customers scan a QR code from the app and accept the Rand conversion rate on their smartphone at the time of the transaction.” 

Pick n Pay partnered with Electrum and CrptoConvert to make this possible. Electrum’s payment infrastructure connects Pick n Pay with CryptoConvert, allowing the retailer to accept BTC payments at checkout. 

Pick n Pay customers will be able to use the Bitcoin and Lightning wallet of their choice. This move comes just five months after Pick n Pay began a pilot program in 10 locations to test Bitcoin payments. 

Financial Inclusion Through Bitcoin

In early October, South Africa’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) declared Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as financial products. This development, according to the retailer, paves the way for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency to be accepted as a mainstream payment method.

“Increasingly, cryptocurrency is being used by those under-served by traditional banking systems, or by those wanting to pay and exchange money in a cheaper and really convenient way,” the company said.

Chris Shortt, the company’s chief information technology officer, hailed the BTC-enabled payment gateway as a means through which they can “provide an affordable service for high volume, low-value transactions that will promote financial inclusion in South Africa.”

The payment option is already working and in use. Bitcoin Ekasi, an NGO dedicated to building a Bitcoin economy in South Africa, shared a video on Tuesday of its members shopping and paying in BTC at a Pick n Pay outlet.

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