UK-based cryptocurrency gift card retailer Pockio has announced its international expansion to Germany and France, with more EU countries to come in the weeks ahead.
The move means that bitcoin and altcoin users in those countries can shop at retailers not yet accepting digital currencies.
"Over the coming weeks we plan to roll out more gift cards for our EU customers who, as in the UK, are looking for quick and easy ways to use their digital currencies day-to-day," CEO Bradley Roberts told CoinDesk, adding:
"We'll be targeting places with thriving cryptocurrency communities like the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Slovenia, that have really embraced bitcoin in particular."
However, while France recently got its own bitcoin advocacy centre, La Maison du Bitcoin, the country doesn't yet have a notable bitcoin scene. Roberts is not discouraged, indicating that in time this will change.
"Bitcoin recognition and adoption has been consistently growing as the technology and concepts become easier to use and as coverage in the media has increased and this holds true globally ... As such, places like Germany and France, with large economies and populations will become significant, market players in the long-term as they discover the benefits of digital currencies."
UK retailer list grows
Pockio also announced today that it has added a number of new retailers to its UK platform.
The firm now boasts 177 retailers accessible from Britain, such as Amazon, the Google Play store, Marks & Spencer and Spotify. Big-name new additions to its roster include Ryan Air, American Apparel, H Samuel and Zynga.
Along with the addition of extra gift cards, Pockio has also improved its platform, cutting the order wait time. Orders can now be processed after just one confirmation on the bitcoin network, meaning that cards are delivered much sooner.
Additionally, the checkout process has been simplified to make buying with cryptocurrencies a more user friendly experience.
"Once you've got to grips with how to buy bitcoin in the first place, spending it is as easy as it would be at any other online store," said Roberts.
"Pockio's service is fast and getting faster as we've worked very hard to reduce delivery times for gift cards. This has been a really important factor for our customers ... Eventually we want to be able to say that you will be able to buy absolutely anything you normally would with bitcoin."
Bridging the gap
Launched in January 2014, Pockio was, at the time, the first British service to exchange retailer gift cards for digital currencies. Notably its original roster of eight cryptocurrencies accepted has now increased to 15, including dogecoin, litecoin and feathercoin, along with bitcoin.
While there are a number of US-based cryptocurrency gift card companies, such as Gyft and eGifter, the European market is still very small, with just the likes of Crypto de Change preventing Pockio having the region all to itself.
However, Roberts indicated his firm may eventually enter the American market too, saying:
"Our plan, ultimately, is to expand to other continents like the US, where again, demand for somewhere to utilise digital currencies other than bitcoin is growing, but currently there are few options for people."
"It is early days for many countries, but we firmly believe that bitcoin and the technology behind it is revolutionary," he concluded. "The financial industry is ripe for disruption, so adoption of these new currencies is only a matter of time."