Major French retail chain Monoprix is making plans to start accepting bitcoin payments on its merchant website this year, according to the company’s director of e-commerce, Patrick Oualid.
Oualid made his comments in an interview published yesterday (8th April) on French news site JDN.
When asked why he thought accepting bitcoin payments would be good for his company Oualid explained:
“Monoprix has always been a pioneer and sought to bring to its customers what we do not necessarily see elsewhere. For 2,500 years, the Phoenicians sailed the seas to seek different products in the countries bordering the Mediterranean. We want to fill the same role.”
He went on to explain that the company takes the same approach with bitcoin. The idea is not to try and impress by being the first to accept bitcoin in France, but to try and improve the lives of customers.
Even if it is far too early to expect a significant turnover in bitcoin sales, many at the company believe in the digital currency, he said, further indicating that the company is also working on a mobile payment solution for physical stores and bitcoin could eventually be used there too.
“Bitcoin is not a flash in the pan […] We need to start using it, as it is in [the company’s] DNA. If bitcoin does not bring us cold hard sales and cash, it does not matter.”
Bitcoin in France
Oualid explained that, in France, the general perception of bitcoin is still that it is primarily a tool for thieves and money launderers.
There is not yet much understanding of the “magnitude” of bitcoin, he said, but to not believe in bitcoin’s potential now would be like deriding the importance of social networks a few years back.
CoinDesk recently reported on attempts to raise the understanding of digital currencies in France. InnoCherche, a France-based think tank dedicated to fostering innovation in the country, held an event composed of seven of its peer organisations earlier this month as part of a discussion that touched on some of the biggest digital trends, including digital currencies.
A representative of the organisation indicated afterwards that the panel members were not very educated about bitcoin, and that he had to defend against the spectre of now-bankrupt bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox and the perception that digital currency exchanges are unsafe for the general consumer.
Monoprix opened its first store in the French city of Rouen in 1938. It now has a presence in 85% of French towns and combines food retailing with hardware, clothing, household items and gifts. A subsidiary of the Casino Group, the company had over 300 stores across France as of 2008, according to online sources.
As for its future plans for digital currencies, Monoprix plans to be bitcoin ready on its web store by the end of 2014, said Oualid, adding:
“In this way, if the [bitcoin explosion] occurs in 2015, we are ready.”
Note: The interview material was sourced via an informal translation and has been edited for clarity and readability.