Mainstreaming is weird.
After being blessed by regulators as valid and viable, getting a wink of acknowledgement from Starbucks, and making some highly conspicuous appearances in the world’s stock photo supply, cryptocurrency is now available in 1,200 convenience stores across the country-continent of Australia. Like buying lotto tickets or cigarettes, Australian would-be crypto-traders can now buy bitcoin and ether over the counter with nothing more than cash, a phone number, and an email address. The minimum purchase is A$50, and there’s a 5 percent fee.
Though the system only went live last week, the infrastructure has been in place for a couple of years. That’s because cryptocurrency exchange Bitcoin.com.au partnered with Blueshyft, a New South Wales-based company that has its iOS-based payment platforms in convenience stores (what the Aussies quaintly call “newsagents”) throughout the country. In-store cryptocurrency purchases happen on an iPad that scans QR codes to move cryptocurrency between wallets. Now Australians can get their daily paper, a soda, and a fraction of an ether all in one stop.
Psychology presents an obstacle. Bitcoin.com.au identified customer trust as one of its main challenges. After all, they are in the business of selling something that occupies no physical space, so to conduct that transaction in a familiar public setting (versus, say, behind a laptop at home) adds an air of trust and comfort that can’t be easily gotten elsewhere.
“When your product is totally digital it can be hard to gain trust from consumers because there’s no tangible product being handed over,” Bitcoin.com.au CEO Rupert Hackett told 9Finance. “Using newsagents provides consumers with a convenient and trusted way for investors to buy cryptocurrency.”
“The fact that you can now buy Bitcoin and Ethereum from the same place you purchase soft drinks and stationery really speaks to how institutionalised cryptocurrency has become,” Hackett added.
Convenience stores unite people across demographics by offering a little bit of everything. In 2018, that includes cryptocurrency.