Pick n Pay in in-store trial of bitcoin payments - TechCentral

Pick n Pay in in-store trial of bitcoin payments

In what its backers are calling “potentially a world first for a major grocery retailer”, shoppers were for a “limited time” able to pay for their groceries using bitcoin at a Pick n Pay retail store in Cape Town.

In a statement posted on its website, Cape Town-based specialist software payments development house Electrum, said customers at Pick n Pay’s campus store at its head office were able to use the bitcoin cryptocurrency to purchase groceries and services.

“The checkout process is as simple as scanning a QR code using a bitcoin wallet app on the customer’s smartphone,” the statement said. See demonstration video from Electrum below.

It quoted the retailer’s information systems executive Jason Peisl as saying that although bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “still relatively new payment concepts”, Pick n Pay has been able to “effectively demonstrate how we are able to accept such alternative payments”.

Pick n Pay did not say when or even if it planned to expand the pilot to other stores. However, Pick n Pay deputy CEO Richard van Rensburg has subsequently told Business Day that the retailer doesn’t expect to begin accepting bitcoin in the near term. He said the trial has since ended.

“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,” Van Rensburg is quoted as having said. “We have proved to ourselves, though, that it is technically possible to roll out a solution very quickly.”

Electrum provided the cloud-based enterprise payments platform used for the transactions, while the bitcoin infrastructure for the project was provided by Luno, a bitcoin company active in Southeast Asia and Africa, and with an office in Cape Town.

According to Electrum’s website, major major retailers and financial institutions use the company’s technology to accept payments, process loyalty transactions and provide value-added services. Its customers include two out of Africa’s top three retailers.

Investec economist Chris Becker tweeted about the development earlier on Saturday.  — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media

  • This article has been updated to include remarks by Pick n Pay deputy CEO Richard van Rensburg


  1. Awesome – Now the next step is offer discount only for payment in BTC and no matter what that % Discount will be… it will be made back with time. Win Win. For any more info on how it works, how to process it, how to buy it and keep it SAFE… and finally how it all comes together with the miners maintaining the blockchain ask me? have a lekker weekend.

  2. Rucinde-Ann RaeVynne Edson on

    Bitcoin is in a bubble, and here’s how it’s going to crash
    Bitcoin is in a bubble, make no mistake.
    Bitcoin fails, or is at least suspect, as a currency in several ways: a storehouse of value, a unit of account and a medium of exchange.
    When excessive optimism far outweighs normal rational expectations, crashes occur — and this will be the case with bitcoin.
    Ron Insana | @rinsana
    Published 12:48 PM ET Wed, 13 Sept 2017
    | Updated 5:54 PM ET Wed, 13 Sept 2017
    The Bitcoin cryptocurrency symbol on a stone sphere monument painted black by unidentified persons in Oktyabrskaya Square in Yekaterinberg, Russia.
    Can bitcoin be a transformational, technology-based, currency and be in a bubble at the same time? Uh, yeah!
    JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon created a bit of a stir in the market for bitcoin on Tuesday by claiming the cryptocurrency is a fraud and is in a valuation bubble that will burst. He said he’d fire any employee in his trading division who speculates in that currency market.
    Critics say Dimon is just protecting his entrenched financial market turf, while others, like myself, voiced their agreement with his core premise.

    There is so much to “unpack” when it comes to discussing transformational, or disruptive, technologies that have become highly speculative that it’s hard to compress it into a mere 750 words or so. But here goes:
    Most disruptive developments in technology and finance eventually inflate into speculative bubbles as investors and traders assume that the intrinsic value of these new vehicles will expand forever.
    The “Tulip Mania” in Holland in the 1630s to which Dimon alluded notwithstanding, history is replete with examples of how transformational technologies enter a highly speculative phase, leading to the creation of great riches for early investors but great risks for those who arrive at the party far too late.
    Here, one looks back to history to identify the various and sundry bubbles that brought both great risks and rewards to investors and suckers alike!
    The exploration of the New World led to the catastrophic “South Sea Bubble” in Great Britain in the 18th century, along with the “Mississippi Scheme” in France at roughly the same time.
    Isaac Newton lost a fortune in the former while the French government nearly collapsed in the latter.
    Of more domestic vintage, turnpike and canal bonds were the subject of great speculation in early American history. So were railroad bonds, electric utility stocks, auto companies, radio firms, the electronics industry, color TV companies, Japanese conglomerates, computer, biotech, internet shares and real estate, and all crashed when excessive optimism far outweighed the more rational expectations normally associated with prudent investing.
    So too will be the case with bitcoin.
    The price of a single bitcoin has gone up parabolically and at a faster pace than any other speculative vehicle in market history, as investor enthusiasm for the new medium has reached a fever pitch.
    However, its adoption as a global currency is suspect, partly for regulatory reasons and partly because creating a world currency from scratch, especially given the mandatory limitations on bitcoin creation, is no mean feat.
    There have been only three reserve currencies in the history of the Western World: the British pound, the French franc (however briefly) and the U.S. dollar.
    Today, the dollar accounts for roughly two-thirds of all financial and economic transactions globally. The daily value of foreign exchange trading tops $5 trillion, alone, while bitcoin does a mere fraction of that.
    As yet, bitcoin also fails as a currency in several ways. Money is defined by three characteristics:
    A storehouse of value.
    A unit of account.
    A medium of exchange.
    It’s hard to determine if bitcoin is a storehouse of value. Daily volatility tops 5 percent to 10 percent while its “value” has skyrocketed. If it crashes, it will fail to meet criteria No. 1.
    It is a unit of account, but for whom?
    It may be a medium of exchange, but for now that is only for a very few users.
    Convertibility is suspect in some nations where bitcoin exchanges have been banned, creating some confusion as to how the currency can be used.
    Complicating all that is the use of cryptocurrencies in the “dark web” for a wide variety of illicit activities, from money laundering to drug dealing to prostitution, among others.
    Additional issues involve sovereign nations and their desire to maintain control of their respective currencies and money supplies that make widespread use of bitcoin unlikely in the very near term.
    I’ve studied bubbles, written extensively about them and have covered no shortage of speculative events in my 33-year career.
    Bitcoin is in a bubble, make no mistake. The episode, for some, will end badly while others reap the rewards of getting in on the action early and, more importantly, getting out before the bust.
    But as in the case of many prior breakthrough technologies, the transformation will indeed be disruptive and extremely important even if the first mover fails to survive.
    The two, as history has shown, are not at all mutually exclusive.
    WATCH: Bitcoin mining can land you in jail in this country

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  3. Rucinde-Ann RaeVynne Edson on

    Or anyone of the myriad of economists and tech moguls predicting the same…. But hey, ekt niks navorsing gedoen nie

  4. Great news well done Pick n Pay you are leading the way here in Africa now we can use our Luno apps here and waiting for my TenX card as well

  5. ha ha ha what economics. Do you know there are atm machines out for this technology and yes we even have them here in South Africa as well

  6. It’s obvious you don’t understand desentralized blockchain technology come back in 2 years and then perhaps it will be clear to you when these so called tech moguls also join the main steam this technology is already 10 years old as usual we are way behind the rest of the world

  7. Bernd Jendrissek on

    China doesn’t have the power to prevent South Africans from using Bitcoin, least of all inside a country that isn’t China.

  8. Rucinde-Ann RaeVynne Edson on

    The dotcom bubble, which crypto currency is already mimicking, didn’t lead to the death of the internet. When this bubble bursts, and burst it will, many people will sit with devalued currency.
    Scoff if you must. Good luck to you all.

  9. Rucinde-Ann RaeVynne Edson on

    Yes, the technology is exciting. But it doesn’t change basic economics principles of supply vs demand and forced market corrections. in fact, people in banking circles are selling Bitcoin in anticipation of this market correction.

  10. Rucinde-Ann RaeVynne Edson on

    And caused the currency to devalue 30%,,
    Tech people apparently don’t know what money is.

  11. Nice Copy and Paste.
    Bottom line I Don’t trust any finacial institution’s advice about cryptocurrency.

  12. Rucinde-Ann RaeVynne Edson on

    Yes I copied and pasted. You are not obligated to trust anyone. You put your money where your mouth is, and I’m happy if it works out for you.
    Please understand the fundamental truth about money though:
    90 % of what we think is money is just numbers in a box
    Again, that’s rudimentary Economics. The bubble will burst. A market correction will come. Bitcoin will survive (probably) but it WILL lose value.
    Que sera sera.
    To those denigrating my knowledge of block chain tech, please know, that this is not an attack on you. Just a be careful. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

  13. Anyone that can look back at least 10 years can easily learn a lesson or two about hype and speculation (20 years and it’s even more clear) with any financial product, it’s a bubble, it’s price is driven by speculators as there is no underlying asset.

    With that said good to see Pick n Pay trying it out though.

  14. Embrace our Banana Republic on

    Bitcoin is totally unregulated. Atleast if you buy £€$ there is a huge country with millions of TAX payers that needs to take responsibility for said currency. A fool and his money are soon parted.

  15. You are quite right it is a bubble and will pop. But just this wave. Like each wave before it, Bitcoin ended up much higher than it was before. With only 3 million people using cryptocurrencies at this time, is it not logical to think that if 1 or 3 BILLION people using it that we might not see several bubbles still to come? In fact, many economists agree, they too are doing their research. Go google “Projecting The Price Of Bitcoin” and go to the zerohedge article. See that chart. Hype cycle keeps going as more adoption occurs despite all the critics. You must remember, some of us have been using Bitcoin for over 4 years now, we have seen bubbles, we have seen bad news and still despite all the drama Bitcoin continues. And you say that bankers are selling their bitcoin? Yes ofcourse, they’re selling high to buy low (that’s what I did too), and they get their slimy JP Morgan guys to once again spread FUD about BTC so that it drops, but then get caught buying in the dip. Again go Google “JP Morgan caught buying in the dip” and also find the 99bitcoins article about the Bitcoin obituaries and read up on the 164 times people have loudly proclaimed the death of bitcoin just to see is multiply in price by a factor of 10.

    Also to those saying PnP are taking on a risk and will “loose their btc when the market dips” actually have no idea how BTC payment gateway’s work. Bitpay for example will convert the BTC in fiat instantaneously and every day deposit fiat into your account. The merchant saves on the transaction and hopefully gives their customers some of that value back. PnP is taking no risk and neither is any company who is supporting BTC for payments. Thousands of merchants in South Africa already accept bitcoin through payfast, who are a well known payment gateway which takes many forms of payment methods including bitcoin, again, no risk to the thousands of companies that use payfast.

    But hey, what do I know, I’ve only made a killing in fiat and continue to hold a significant amount of crypto because I understood the implication of this technology and invested early and keep advocating it’s use. I use crypto all over the world with BTC debits cards, buy ALL my mobile airtime with Bitcoin from the Luno App (free airtime for life at this point), use bitcoin and other crypto’s to buy stuff from Amazon and safely store all of it in highly secure offline hardware wallets.

    Bitcoin and crypto currencies are here to stay, might as well buy a tiny bit, even R1000 rand is better than waking up in 5 years and go, oh s#!7, the rand is worthless, and one Bitcoin is R200 000

  16. and the price has recovered already. So if you sold high and bought in the dip, the tech people are smiling

  17. I agree with you about being careful to not out all your eggs in one basket.
    That is sound advise regarding any financial decision. Like you said 90% of money is just in a box. In the old days there were value behind currencies like gold and silver, unfortunately that is not the case anymore, governments just print or create new money with no value backing it up, and this is where the problem with traditional fiat currencies lie. The problem with bitcoin is that we have to compare it to fiat currencies to give it some sort of “value” and financial institute’s and government’s want to box it in the traditional way we think about money. Cryptocurrencies are the new “money” and unfortunately we don’t understand its value yet. I agree with you that bitcoin will lose value, but it will gain value again as well as o normal fiat currencies. I’m not an expert at all but I’m also not ignorant in my cryptocurrency investments. I was one of the lucky ones that bought bitcoins for under $10. I did not understand what the value was but I knew that a “currency” that was not linked to the financial crisis and not regulated by banks or government’s must be a good thing. I don’t think that bitcoin is in a bubble as what was commonly talked about, even if bitcoins price drop against fiat currencies, it is not losing its value, because its value is not what we understand in traditional money sense. I believe its value has more to do with anonymity, security and other factors, rather than value in the traditional sense like gold or silver reserves backing up fiat value. In 2011 or 2012 I cant remember exactly bitcoin was at $31 dollars, and dropped to around $2, there was also talk about a bubble then, and if you did not panic then, and invested in more bitcoin then the rest is history. Value is what people are prepared to pay for, and there will only be a limited amount of bitcoin, nobody can create more coins. This is just my humble opinion, I keep my bitcoins as I believe that its value will keep on growing.

  18. So who determines the Rand value of your bitcoins when making the transaction? So if these currencies are accepted then why not USD or other foreign currencies.

    One issue is the lack of accountability of these cryptocurrencies. Most ransomware demands payment to bitcoin etc and many criminal organisations are using them as there are no controls and trackability. So I guess our Tenderpreneurs and other government criminals will start taking their bribes etc in bitcoin.

  19. I still believe it is nothing more than an elaborate ponzi scheme. Only Ponzi schemes have returns like 400%. I cannot wait to say “I told you so” when the bubble bursts and people are out of all their ill gotten gains.

  20. Unregulated as in you buy into it with ilegal gains here and there is nothing stopping you taking it out in the UK etc without SARS being aware you just shifted your funds out of the country. There is no control which is why it is the choice of criminals around the world to shift funds and launder their criminal gains

  21. Embrace our Banana Republic on

    Bitcoin is not owned managed or part of any organization, country or company that has any assets so it has no obligations or laws that governs its trading and policies (unregulated) so it is kind of similar to gold in that respect. Furthermore we have to trust Satoshi Nakamoto that only Twenty-one million Bitcoins will be issued, ever. I don’t have the expertise or skills to know this. I have to trust. And it is alleged that Nakamoto has mined over 1 million Bitcoins for himself. As I understand it due to the anonymity of Bitcoin there is no way to verify this. Again trust the guy? Bitcoin works on a supply and demand principal. Now this chap allegedly “owns” just under 5% of all the Bitcoins that will ever exist. So if we all jump on the bandwagon and Bitcoin takes over the world he will effectively own just under 5 % of all the “money” in the world? This smells very fishy. It is like buying gold just without the gold because it has absolutely no intrinsic value.

  22. Embrace our Banana Republic on

    Why do we need a global currency where transactions will basically be anonymous and completely unrestricted? I can use my cheque card, debit card and credit card any where in the world and online? Yes, there are fees involved. But those fees give you some protection and services.

  23. Embrace our Banana Republic on

    I can however not directly pay for an AK-47 or an under aged prostitute using any of my current cards. But I think that is a good thing?

  24. Bitcoin’s transaction fee is too high and transaction confirmation takes too long. Unless Luno or PnP takes on the risk of zero confirmation transactions when paying high fees secures the transaction, this project will fail.

    Bitcoin can not do retail as it is now.

    Dash has instant transacion verification and minimal fees. It has all the properties a cryptocurrency needs to succeed.

  25. With ponzi schemes (aka pyramid schemes), only the guys at the top benefits. Bitcoin does not have the guys at the top, and neither does it make use of “recruitments”. How do you get to the comparison?

  26. Not true, everyone from the top down benefits as long as it keeps going and more investors are found. These new investors fuel the inflated interest paybacks until the paybacks are bigger than the investment then it collapses.

  27. Exactly and that is why it is the choice of criminals and organisations wishing to launder money. There may only be 21 million coins but the virtual credits have outstripped this long ago

  28. * It’s only a pilot.
    * It’s only launched in one place, the Pick n Pay head office canteen.
    * It’s not running anymore.

    Thanks, guys. Very cool marketing gimmick. Glad your staff members had a chance to buy canteen food for a few days using Bitcoin.

    Not quite a ‘world first’.

  29. Bitcoin does not pay returns to its investors. Neither does it require an increasing flow of money. And as mentioned, there is no central authority (as with a ponzi scheme). I think you are confusing “returns” with value increasing/decreasing based on the demand (similar to fiat currencies).

  30. There is a central body that started this. It did not just start spontaneously like the big bang. Returns are in the way of over inflated values. The lack of controls is why it is favourite amongst crimials

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