Pick n Pay Double Take? The Supermarket Chain Isn't Accepting Bitcoin, It Tested It

South Africa's second-largest supermarket chain tested bitcoin payments earlier this year, but is thus far declining to roll out a broader option.

AccessTimeIconSep 19, 2017 at 10:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:57 a.m. UTC

South Africa's second-largest supermarket chain tested bitcoin payments earlier this year – but it doesn't plan to roll out the option to its stores anytime soon, according to its CEO.

Pick n Pay, which operates in a number of African countries as well as South Africa, piloted a payment system in partnership with startups Electrum and Luno. That initiative was limited to a staff cafeteria, CEO Richard van Rensburg told BusinessDay in an interview, and is no longer active.

As for when the supermarket chain might expand the option to an actual storefront, van Rensburg demurred, pointing to a difficult regulatory environment as the root cause for hesitation.

He told the publication:

"We don’t expect that in the near term accepting bitcoin will unlock any significant new business and we are unlikely to roll out the solution until the payments industry and regulatory authorities have established a framework for managing the risks associated with cryptocurrencies."

That said, van Rensburg struck a positive note about the trial itself and the potential benefits to supermarket operators like Pick n Pay.

"We have proved to ourselves, though, that it is technically possible to roll out a solution very quickly," he added.

News that Pick n Pay was even considering a bitcoin payment option spread earlier this week, leading to inaccurate reports that the supermarket chain was rolling out a fully-fledged payment option. The company confirmed to tech blog MyBroadband that that it wasn't accepting bitcoin at any of its stores.

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