Dutch bitcoin exchange Bitplaats has announced the expansion of its service into neighbouring country Belgium.
Belgian users can now trade digital currency from Bitplaats using the country’s dominant online payments platform, Bancontact/Mister Cash.
Bitplaats (which translates as ‘bit place’ in Dutch) claims transactions on its platform will be completed instantly as it uses the Bancontact/Mister Cash payment method, which offers transactions in real-time. Bancontact/Mister Cash is widely used for transactions in the country. Lennert Vlemmings, a Bitplaats co-founder, said:
“We received many questions from people living in Belgium if they could use our service, so we started bitplaats.be with the Bancontact/Mister Cash payment option.”
What is Bancontact/Mister Cash?
Funds are transacted between a merchant and a customer’s bank account almost instantly. Bancontact/Mister Cash claims its transactions are completed in less than half a second and, notably, the system doesn’t permit chargebacks.
Bitcoin users in Belgium generally obtain their digital currency through exchanges based overseas like Bitstamp and BTC-e, according to Chris D’Costa, who helped found the Belgian Bitcoin Association and is developing a hardware wallet called Meek.
Using these exchanges requires a registration process that can stretch over several days, and handing over personal identity documents, he said:
“It’s a reasonably difficult process for everybody currently: there’s no easy way to get your bitcoins. The interesting development [with Bitplaats] is the ability to buy through Bancontact. It will be super easy to buy [bitcoin] over the counter here.”
The Bitplaats backstory
Bitplaats was launched in the Netherlands last April. It allowed users to buy and sell bitcoins using the iDEAL payment method, which is similar to Bancontact/Mister Cash.
Vlemmings said his firm had processed more than 3,500 transactions to date. He also claimed that Bitplaats had processed more than 150 transactions in Belgium in the two weeks that it has been active there.
Bitplaats doesn’t impose a registration process on its users, nor does it require users to input any identification information to complete a transaction. Users can buy and sell bitcoin with the firm without entering an email address or username. Vlemmings added:
“The big difference between us and an exchange like Mt. Gox or Bitstamp is that we deliver the bitcoins instantly, with no need for an account or registration documents.”
Vlemmings, 23, is one of four co-founders. He’s based in the village of Lieshout in the south of the Netherlands. The group had been friends since high school, Vlemmings said, and got involved in the cryptocurrency last January.
Vlemmings had dabbled in bitcoin mining in 2011 while studying for his computer science degree at university, but he subsequently misplaced a hard drive containing 20 BTC when he lost interest in the digital currency.
Bitcoin adoption in Belgium has been picking up speed over the last three months. A carrier called Mobile Vikings announced in December that it would start taking bitcoin payments for mobile credit in Belgium and the Netherlands. The country’s top online food delivery site, Pizza.be, has also started taking orders in bitcoin.
On the regulatory front, Belgium appears to be relatively sanguine about bitcoin usage. Back in September, the nation’s finance minister told parliament that the country’s central bank should have no objection to bitcoin.
“Even if you’d asked me a month ago, I’d have said not much is going on in Belgium. But now we’re seeing some interesting developments,” D’Costa said.
Correction: Bitplaats’ premium to Bitstamp has been added and discount to Mt. Gox has been corrected.
This article should not be viewed as an endorsement of Bitplaats, please do your own research before considering investing any funds in this company.
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