A French sushi shop has become one of the first shops in the country to accept bitcoin.
Maki Wrap, an upmarket sushi takeaway that opened on 4th November, says it adopted bitcoin payments partly in protest at “excessive fees” levied by French banks on businesses.
The shop uses BitPay, with customers scanning a QR code to send their bitcoins – a similar setup to other businesses that accept bitcoin payments.
“It would be easier and much cheaper for us if all our customers could pay in bitcoin,” Maki Wrap CEO S de Lagarde told CoinDesk in an email. He asked that his first name be initialised.
Maki Wrap uses an iPad as a cash register, making it easier to integrate bitcoin payments, and when their wallet reaches €20 worth of bitcoin, the money is transferred to their normal business account.
So far, the Lyon-based business has only had four bitcoin payments, but despite the small volume of bitcoin trade so far, de Lagarde is convinced of the currency’s potential.
He first began using bitcoin at the beginning of 2012, back when one bitcoin was worth less than $10. He said:
“I’m convinced that this kind of cryptocurrency is the future of payment. Bitcoin is one of the biggest inventions of our century.”
He sees it partly as a way to undermine the current status quo of the banking system: “[Accepting] bitcoin is also symbolic for us, in order to protest against French banks who are asking excessive fees, for payments and account holding.”
Like in other places, there haven’t been any regulatory barriers to accepting bitcoin payments, but de Lagarde says he is looking forward to working with the French government to define rules around bitcoin, pointing admiringly to the German government’s decision to recognise bitcoin as “private money“.
However, the French government has taken some steps that put it ahead of other governments when it comes to bitcoin. In December 2012, Bitcoin-Central, a French bitcoin exchange operated by Paymium, was given approval by French regulators to operate like a bank.
The decision meant that Bitcoin-Central accounts under €100,000 were protected by French taxpayers and users could spend their bitcoins using a bank debit card.
In an announcement on the Bitcoin Talk forum, a Paymium staff member said they had “raised the bar” for bitcoin exchanges.
Though Maki Wrap is one of the first food outlets in France to accept bitcoin, if not the first, some French businesses already accept bitcoin payments. A bed and breakfast in Paris lets visitors pay with bitcoin and a filmmaker also accepts bitcoin payments via their website.
Two more Maki Wrap outlets are on their way, says de Lagarde, and they will both also accept bitcoins. If you don’t like sushi rolls, the shops also sell salads and smoothies, plus the company is dedicated to making every aspect of their operations environmentally friendly.
What’s not to like? If you’re in Lyon, head over to Maki Wrap and drop some virtual currency.