Amsterdam-based bitcoin seller Bit4coin has teamed up with Berlin-based MK Payment to launch ‘Bitupcard’ – an e-voucher scheme that enables over-the-counter purchase of bitcoin in 30 retail stores throughout Turkey.
The service goes live today and, notably, could also be made available at up to 5,000 Turkish locations in the near future.
Framing the e-voucher scheme as a way to simplify the on-ramp to bitcoin ownership, Dolf Diedrichsen, Bit4coin‘s founder and CEO, explained: “One of the most difficult problems of bitcoin is still how to get them.”
“We want to change that by bringing bitcoin to a trusted retail environment. No need to register an account and send money to some unknown website, no hassle with passwords or security, just an easy way to buy some bitcoin.”
Diedrichsen told CoinDesk that the firm is not able to sell bitcoin vouchers in Germany yet for regulatory reasons, so it is initially launching in Turkey.
“But this actually works out quite well for us,” he said. “Since Turkey is not a very big bitcoin country yet, it provides us with a test bed. We do have plans to provide this service in other countries in the near future as well.”
How it works
Using Bitupcard is similar to the process of buying mobile top-up credit. After selecting a value between 50 and 500 Turkish lira (approximately $20 to $200) and paying with cash or other accepted payment method, customers receive a paper receipt printed with a voucher code.
The buyer must then type in the unique code along with a bitcoin address at bitupcard.com. The bitcoin will subsequently be send to their address within four hours – and usually much less, the company says.
Users are charged a 6% transaction fee, which is deducted from the value of voucher when it is redeemed.
Ease of use
MK Payment is a Germany-based e-payment and technology company, operating an electronic voucher network in the EU and in other regions.
Ibrahim Tarlig, the firm’s CEO, said that Bitupcard’s biggest selling point is it’s ease of use.
He explained that MK Payment brings to the table an extensive retail distribution network throughout Germany and Turkey, while bit4coin brings expertise in bitcoin, as well as a platform to redeem bitcoin gift cards and voucher codes.
“Together, we are able to deliver a great product that will allow even customers with little prior experience to buy their first bitcoin,” he said.
The two firms won’t have the market to themselves, however. Turkey’s first bitcoin exchange BTCTurk might provide some competition, especially considering the 6% markup asked to buy cryptocurrency using Bitupcard vouchers.
Diedrichsen doesn’t see it that way, though:
“It’s not really our focus to compete with exchanges. If you want to buy large amounts of bitcoin there’s probably better alternatives out there, but with Bitupcard we’re really aiming for beginners who just want to get their feet wet.”
Istanbul image via Shutterstock