Paris tobacconists branch out, start selling cryptocurrency

Tobacconists in Paris are now offering their customers the chance to pick up some cryptocurrency along with their cigarettes, lotto tickets and daily newspaper, as part of an initiative set to sweep across the sector in France in 2019.

This week, six so-called ‘Tabac’ stores in Paris have rolled out terminals as part of a pilot project run by crypto startup Keplerk, which will allow customers to buy vouchers redeemable for Bitcoin Core (BTC), Reuters reported.

If successful, Keplerk hopes to engage up to 6,500 of the stores nationwide, which would provide direct access to cryptocurrency to millions of customers in France for the first time.

The arrangement is the product of a deal between Keplerk and the company responsible for providing cash register software to Tabac stores throughout the country. Should the trial prove successful, Keplerk has said it will look at ways of going even further in a bid to make crypto accessible at the 24,000 similar outlets nationwide.

Keplerk co-founder Adil Zakhar said that selling cryptocurrency through trusted retail partners would allow millions of customers to access crypto through a trusted member of their community, rather than through some faceless (and probably unregulated) online exchange.

“Some people find it complicated to get [crypto] on-line…They trust their local tobacco shop owner more than they would trust some remote anonymous website,” Zakhar said, according to the news outlet.

Amidst a backdrop of falling tobacco sales, Tabac shops have been increasingly diversifying into other products, such as cell phone credit, prepaid payment cards and remittance services. With crypto vouchers now added to that list, there’s another good reason for customers to frequent their local store.

For the time being, the scheme remains restricted to the BTC token. However, there is the suggestion that a future rollout could encompass a wider range of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin SV, to meet rising consumer demand.

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