Growing Adoption: French Tobacco Shops Start Selling Bitcoin

Francisco Memoria

Bitcoin is now on sale in six French tobacco shops, where customers can buy other items including cigarettes, cigars, and lottery tickets. The company behind the move, fintech firm Keplerk, hopes it’ll enroll up to 6,500 ‘Tabacs’ by February.

The plan to get France’s tobacco shops selling bitcoin was announced back in November of 2017. At the time, it was revealed Keplerk and the tobacco federation of France, the Fédération des Buraliste, struck a deal to sell the cryptocurrency in 4,500 to 5,000 stores in the country.

In them, customers were set to be able to buy BTC in denominations of 50, 100, and 250 euros. Now, according to Reuters, they’re able to do just that as six tobacco shops in and around Paris now sell BTC. Adi Zakhar, one of Keplerk’s co-founders, was quoted as saying:

Some people find it complicated to get bitcoins on-line. They trust their local tobacco shop owner more than they would trust some remote anonymous website.

Currently, people in Paris can buy vouchers they can later on redeem for BTC on Keplerk’s website, where they’re instructed on how to set up a wallet. According to Reuters, France’s 24,000 tobacco shops have started diversifying because of dwindling tobacco sales, and offer cellphone credits, prepaid credit cards, and money transfer services.

One of the first buying BTC at a tobacco shop, Cyril Azria, noted that he’ll use the €150 worth of BTC he bought to “buy some computer material on the internet and the rest to speculate.” Per Azria’s words, it’s a “good time to buy” the cryptocurrency.

As covered the project initially stated it had received approval from the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (ACPR), a regulatory agency that works under the Central Bank of France. Later on, however, the central bank refuted the claim, adding that it never approved the effort and added it doesn’t advise the country’s citizens to trade cryptocurrencies.

Despite the controversy, the plan went forward. Although the central bank has warned against cryptocurrency investments, the country has been embracing cryptocurrencies. It’s reportedly in the process of regulating initial coin offerings (ICOs), and UNICEF France has been accepting donations in BTC and nine other major cryptocurrencies.