Pick n Pay recently conducted a successful Bitcoin payment trial at its head office’s canteen store, and is optimistic that cryptocurrency technology will be adopted in the future.
The Bitcoin trial was for a limited time and is no longer active, however, and media reports stating that “Pick n Pay is now accepting Bitcoin” are inaccurate.
Pick n Pay Deputy CEO Richard van Rensburg said their IT team worked with Electrum and Luno to implement the solution.
“We designed a process from user registration (FICA), tender acceptance at point of sale to funds authorisation, currency exchange in real time during the transaction, and instant payment settlement,” he told MyBroadband.
Pick n Pay does not expect that accepting Bitcoin will unlock new business in the near term, and the company is unlikely to roll out the solution “until the payments industry and regulatory authorities have established a framework for managing the risks associated with cryptocurrencies”.
“We have proved to ourselves, though, that it is technically possible to roll out a solution very quickly. We are very excited about what we have learnt and about what the long-term promise of cryptocurrencies holds for our industry and our customers.”

Frictionless payments

Van Rensburg said the trial showed that accepting cryptocurrency can be frictionless and safe, and has the potential to be a “big game changer”.
“Our pilot resulted in a transaction that was safe – there is no cash risk and no card fraud risk,” he said.
“The process we designed enabled us to know the identity of the customer, because we required the customer to undergo a once-off FICA process to be registered to transact.”
The transaction was free, but the process of exchanging Bitcoin was expensive.
“The cryptocurrency industry has some way to go to create a low-cost currency exchange process.”
Van Rensburg added that the trial also served to demonstrate the opportunities Pick n Pay’s value added services platform can offer.
“We have been working with our partners to build an open interface to our point of sale environment for value added services that will enable third-party providers to bring new services and capabilities to our customers,” he said.
While Bitcoin was the focus of the recent test, further examples include accepting third-party electronic vouchers, issuing event and travel tickets, and purchasing virtual products such as airtime and electricity.
A video of the Pick n Pay Bitcoin payment trial is posted below.