Consumers in the UK can now use their bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to buy gift cards for major online retailers like Amazon, Google Play Store, ASOS and Starbucks.
Launched at the end of January, Pock.io has become the first British service to exchange retailer gift cards for digital currencies – with eight different cryptocoins currently accepted.
Pock.io CEO and co-founder Rusty Nash said that the driving force behind the launch of this service was to make digital currencies more mainstream in the UK.
Pock.io’s business model is similar to that of the California-based mobile gift card wallet, Gyft, which started accepting bitcoin last May. Gyft has since expanded to Canada with a limited number of retailers, but hasn’t made the leap across the pond yet.
Some UK users have reported being unable to use their Gyft gift cards on Amazon.co.uk, while others have reported problems with shipping restrictions into the UK with items purchased on the Amazon.com site.
Nash said he noticed that there was a gap in the British market for this kind of service.
“I had the idea of gift cards even before I knew Gyft and other competitors were available. When I did my research, I obviously found them in the US market, but there was nothing in the UK. I saw a gap that not only I wanted to fill, but needed to be filled.”
Even though Pock.io is only a couple of months old, Nash is already planning to expand the service across Europe. He eventually also wants to take it to America and Canada, where he will face competition from Gyft and eGifter. He says what sets his company apart is that it accepts a variety of digital currencies, not just bitcoin.
“We match [Gyft and eGifter] on the fact that we have zero per cent commission. But, our main difference is the fact that we accept multiple cryptocurrencies.”
Currently, Pock.io is accepting bitcoin, percoin, litecoin, dogecoin, maxcoin, vertcoin, worldcoin and quark. Nash said that they would continue to add more currencies based on the community’s requests.
“We listen to the community and we have managed to grow so fast because we like to take direction from the community,” says Nash.
True to Nash’s word, Pock.io removed Apple from its gift card selection following the Cupercino-based company’s controversial decision to remove Blockchain’s wallet app from the App Store.
— pockio (@pockiouk) March 11, 2014
While iTunes products may no longer be available via Pock.io, the company is working on adding more merchants to its network.
The latest partnership they have struck is with the Great British Pub Card, which enables people to top up their gift cards for drinks and food at 750 pubs in the UK.
Nash said that they are also in pre-approval stages to add a major UK supermarket to their database.