MoneyGram to Allow Bitcoin Buying and Selling Across Retail Network

The money transfer company will debut cash-for-bitcoin trades at 12,000 locations after linking up with Coinme.

AccessTimeIconMay 12, 2021 at 1:35 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:54 p.m. UTC

MoneyGram International said Wednesday it will allow customers to buy and sell bitcoin for cash at 12,000 U.S. retail locations through a partnership with Coinme. 

The cash transfer company plans to introduce bitcoin trades in 20,000 stores across 32 states by Q3, Coinme CEO Neil Bergquist told CoinDesk. His crypto firm already facilitates cash-for-bitcoin swaps at around 6,000 supermarket kiosks.

MoneyGram and Coinme will take 4% of customers’ transactions plus $2.75 in fees. Walmart-based MoneyGram locations will charge $2 more, he said.

The rollout vastly expands U.S. investors’ access to brick-and-mortar crypto touchpoints. According to Coin ATM Radar, fewer than 3,000 crypto kiosks and tellers allow users to sell their bitcoin in person, though nearly 17,000 locations facilitate buys.

Moneygram had recently hinted the service was in the works.

“The ability for anyone to walk into a MoneyGram location and load that wallet or unload that wallet is a pretty exciting service opportunity,” CEO Alex Holmes said on the company’s early May earnings call.

Until recently a major partner of Ripple Labs, MoneyGram received tens of millions of dollars to use the XRP token for cross-border transactions. The relationship ended in March after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against Ripple Labs last year.

That's life

During an appearance on CoinDesk TV's "First Mover" Wednesday, Holmes reflected on the breakup.

"It's unfortunate what happened with Ripple," he said. "It was a great pilot for us and really moved us, I think, progressively forward in blockchain."

However, he cited "the challenges that they're facing today with the SEC and government regulation, which continues to be a big topic in the crypto space," adding that "it made it very difficult to continue to operate particularly in the United States, but we'll see where that goes down the road."

Steady as she goes

Holmes also hinted that MoneyGram may be looking at a way for its customers to use stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency designed to hold its value against a fiat currency like the U.S. dollar.

When asked directly, the MoneyGram CEO responded, "One press release at a time and one partnership at a time."

It appears something may already be in the works with Coinme; Bergquist, who also appeared on the show, was asked if his company could "flip a switch" to give MoneyGram customers access to stablecoins. He said his company has something "under development to support other cryptocurrencies which we'll be adding, so we'll have a future press release for MoneyGram to run with in the future."

Holmes called stablecoins a "super interesting" and "dynamic opportunity" given currency volatility in markets like Latin America, Africa and Asia.

UPDATE (May 12, 17:45 UTC): Added quotes from MoneyGram CEO's CoinDesk TV appearance

UPDATE (May 12, 18:00 UTC): Added more quotes from MoneyGram and Coinme CEOs.

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