UPDATE (28th October 17:55 BST): This article has been updated with comment from SBB
The operator of a national railway service in Switzerland will begin selling bitcoin through its ticket kiosks starting next month.
SBB quietly unveiled the service on its website, set to begin on 11th November. Customers, who need to have a QR-code enabled bitcoin wallet and a valid Swiss mobile phone number, will be able to buy between CHF 20 and CHF 500 (up to roughly $500).
Representatives for SBB did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But according to Swiss business newspaper Der Bund, SBB representatives confirmed the service, saying that it is working with a local payments startup called Sweepay.
SBB later said in a statement:
"Until now, there have only been limited opportunities to purchase bitcoin in Switzerland. With over 1,000 ticket machines, SBB has a dense distribution network that is available round the clock and is not only suitable for purchasing tickets, but also allows additional services to be obtained."
The railway operator further said that it plans to test demand for bitcoin sales over a two-year period.
There will be limits to the service, according to the report. SBB won’t accept bitcoin payments for tickets, for example, and there will reportedly be a CHF 5000 annual cap on purchases, which isn’t listed on the website. SBB will also reportedly charge a 6% transaction fee at the time of purchase.
The SBB trial perhaps reflects the cultural experiment taking place in some parts of Switzerland. In May, the city of Zug, Switzerland announced that it would accept bitcoin payments for public services.
Financial firms in the country have also moved to test applications of blockchain, and last month, the chief of the Swiss central bank said that the system has been “turned on its head” by the technology.