Earlier this month, Australian cryptocurrency exchange Bitcoin.com.au began selling bitcoin and ethereum at over 1,200 newsstands around the country. The company, which began operations 18 months ago and partnered with payments provider Blueshyft to provide the new service, bills itself as “one of the first independent Bitcoin exchange networks in Australia.”
The announcement comes at a time of increased mainstream recognition for cryptocurrency. Rupert Hackett, CEO of Bitcoin.com.au, touted the move as another example of increased institutional acceptance for bitcoin, marveling at “the fact that you can now buy bitcoin and ethereum from the same place you purchase soft drinks and stationary.”
Hackett sees the new sales model as a perfect fit for novice investors, simplifying a process that can seem intimidating and abstract to laypeople. With cryptocurrency being sold at newsstands across the continent, it moves from the cyber unknown into a familiar, comfortable environment. “When your product is totally digital it can be hard to gain trust from consumers because there’s no tangible product being handed over,” he told Australian financial publication 9Finance. “Using newsagents provides consumers with a convenient and trusted way for investors to buy cryptocurrency.” Selling ether holds further introductory potential for new investors, with its lower price point making for a “more digestible value proposition for buyers.”
Customers need a crypto wallet to begin; once they have created a wallet and registered with the service using their email and mobile phone number, they scan the wallet’s corresponding QR code on an iPad Mini at the newsstand. Customers are then charged a 5 percent transaction fee. There is a minimum purchase of 50 AUD (roughly $39 USD) for bitcoin and ethereum, and customers can expect to receive their cryptocurrency within 20 minutes of purchase.
Australia has a strong track record of early adoption with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in traditional spaces. The Australian Securities Exchange announced in December 2017 that they would begin utilizing blockchain to process equity transactions, while Brisbane National Airport announced an initiative to accept bitcoin, ethereum, and dash payments for consumer transactions in their airport terminals – the first airport in the world to do so.
While the impact of over-the-counter cryptocurrency sales remains to be seen, the approach potentially stands to benefit investors and business owners alike, providing new sources of income for newsstand operators and adding increased levels of accessibility and transparency for newcomers to cryptocurrency.
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