South African retail giant Pick n Pay, together with partners Electrum and CryptoConvert, has expanded support for Bitcoin payments to all of its 1,500 stores across the country. That includes its regular stores as well as PnP Express and Clothing stores.
If you’re tired of hodl’ing your Bitcoin, now you can spend it on groceries, snacks, clothes, airtime, electricity, transport tickets, and municipal bills. What a time to be alive.
More options at Pick n Pay are good, we guess
CryptoConvert, the retailer’s local crypto payment partner, announced on Twitter that its CryptoQR platform was up and running at all Pick n Pay stores nationwide. Whether folks will use them is the next obstacle.
The volatile nature of cryptocurrencies is one of many reasons they haven’t seen wider mainstream adoption. But CryptoConvert uses the Lightning network which it says allows “merchants to receive crypto payments without needing to worry about the technical complexities and exchange rate volatility associated with Cryptocurrency payments.” We’ll see about that.
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Pick n Pay’s other partner, Electrum, connects CryptoConvert’s tech with the retailer, allowing customers to pay using Bitcoin’s Lightning Network at the till.
This project started as a small pilot in 2017 in the canteen of Pick n Pay’s head office in Cape Town. It took a while, but eventually, the people in charge deemed it a success and expanded the project to include 39 stores across the country last November.
Bitcoin payments on the fast track
If it took five years from a PnP canteen to 39 stores, the move from 39 stores to 1,500 in only three months should tell you what Pick n Pay envisions future payments will look like. But that doesn’t mean we all have to fall in line. We don’t blame you if you’re still skeptical, especially after Bitcoin’s (most cryptocurrencies, actually) horrendous second half of 2022.
At its peak in November 2021, the cryptocurrency cost nearly R1 million for 1 BTC. By November 2022, during Pick n Pay’s first expansion, that had dropped to around R280,000. In the few months since it has roughly doubled in value again and is currently sitting at R406,000.
Although CryptoConvert says using the Lightning network will protect against this volatility, and these kinds of dips and spikes don’t happen overnight, you’ll still need to either already own or buy the cryptocurrency to make use of Pick n Pay’s new system.
Then you’ll need to transfer it to a suitable Lightning network-compatible Bitcoin wallet on your phone. While it’s great to see Pick n Pay expanding payment options, we don’t think this is how most of its shoppers want to spend their money.
Maybe we’re wrong and South Africans are itching to use their Bitcoin on groceries instead of NFTs and sportscars. They better hurry before it dips in value again and all they can afford is a pizza.