Switzerland’s largest online shop, Digitec Galaxus, has announced it will start accepting payments in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The company, which saw turnover of close to a billion francs last year, is by far the largest Swiss retailer to date to take this step.
The move may go some way to answering the question posed by many bitcoin holders: “I have cryptocurrencies, now what do I do with them?”
Created in 2008, bitcoin was the first blockchain-based peer-to-peer payment system designed to rival currencies printed by governments. And in the last decade, hundreds of bitcoin imitators – commonly referred to as altcoins – have sprung up in its wake.
Consumers spending at least CHF200 ($200) online with Digitec Galaxus will be able to pay in bitcoin, bitcoin cash ABC, bitcoin cash SV, ethereum, ripple, binance coin, litecoin, TRON, NEO or OmiseGO, the company announced on Tuesday. A handful of customers had already taken advantage of the new service on the first day of trading, but the company said it was too early to tell how widespread such purchases may be in future.
“Cryptocurrencies are fascinating and likely to become a relevant means of payment in e-commerce – we want to support this development,” said Digitec Galaxus CIO and co-founder Oliver Herren in a statementexternal link.
The Digitecexternal link arm sells electronic goods while Galaxusexternal link has a wide assortment of household, DIY, fashion, jewellery and other products. Since 2015, the online enterprise has been majority owned by Swiss retailer Migros, which has hundreds of bricks and mortar stores.
To enable this new payment method, the company has teamed up with Swiss e-payment specialist Datatransexternal link and Danish crypto payment provider Coinifyexternal link. The latter partner will handle the cryptocurrencies and convert them into Swiss francs for Digitec Galaxus.
According to coinmapexternal link, a website that lists shops that accept crypto, there are well over 100 outlets already in Switzerland that accept the new digital currencies - but most are small scale.
“This is a significant step for bitcoin in Switzerland. A broader acceptance of shops enables bitcoin to not only be used as a store of value but also as medium of exchange, bringing bitcoin closer to being a real currency,” Bitcoin Association Switzerland president Lucas Betschart told swissinfo.ch.