Grocery retailer Pick n Pay to start accepting cryptocurrency payments


FILE PHOTO: A customer walks beneath the logo of South African supermarket operator Pick n Pay in Cape Town, South Africa, April 26 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - One of South Africa's largest grocery retailers Pick n Pay is expanding a pilot of adding cryptocurrency as a payment option to more stores after the successful completion of the first phase, it said on Tuesday.

The announcement came weeks after the Financial Sector Conduct Authority formally declared crypto assets as a financial product in South Africa, enabling them to be regulated and clearing the way for cryptocurrency to be a mainstream method of payment.

"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. Many companies are responding to this by accepting Bitcoin," Pick n Pay said in a statement.

The retailer ran the first phase of the pilot in 10 Western Cape province stores over the past five months with pre-selected testers. It has now extended it to a further 29 stores for testing with customers, with the intention to roll it out to all stores in the coming months, Pick n Pay said.

Pick n Pay has partnered with Electrum and CryptoConvert on its latest pilot. Electrum's payment platform connects Cryptoconvert and Pick n Pay, letting customers pay with the Bitcoin Lightning technology at the till point, the company added.

"Crypto payments are still in their infancy in South Africa, but we are already seeing adoption in parts of our society that haven't previously had access to traditional financial systems," said Carel van Wyk, Founder of CryptoConvert, which allows merchants to accept crypto payments.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla, editing by Ed Osmond)

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