Pick n Pay sees uptick in Bitcoin payments in stores

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 13 Jun 2024
The retail group records R1 million a month in Bitcoin payments.
The retail group records R1 million a month in Bitcoin payments.

One year after introducing crypto payments, Pick n Pay is seeing R1 million a month in sales from shoppers buying groceries, data and airtime, and paying their municipal bills.

According to the retailer, four times more customers per month are using crypto QR codes at nearly 700 stores, mostly in the Western Cape, followed by Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Half of all transactions are R500 and under, and the transaction amount is capped at R10 000.

“We started from a low base of around R25 000 per month, and it has grown exponentially every month over the past year,” says Deven Moodley, executive head for Pick n Pay's value-added services, financial services and mobile division.

A Deloitte survey indicates that since the introduction of Bitcoin in 2008, more than 220 million people are now using crypto-currency. It says consumers are using Bitcoin to pay for many goods and services, and businesses are responding accordingly by making digital currency a viable payment option for more people.

After completing a pilot that allowed customers to pay using crypto-currency on their smartphones via an app, Pick n Pay officially introduced the digital currency payments last February, across its stores.

The retailer notes this payment method is also accepted at PnP Express and Pick n Pay Clothing.

To pay with crypto-currency, customers need a Bitcoin Lightning, or Binance wallet, and the CryptoQR app from Money Badger, or they can scan the QR code directly through their VALR or Luno apps. Customers can pay with any crypto-currencies supported by Luno, VALR or Binance.

“You simply tell the cashier you want to pay using a QR code, and scan your phone at the card machine and accept the South African rand’s conversion rate at the time of payment,” Moodley explains. “For years, crypto was something only computer boffins knew about, but Pick n Pay has paved the way for our shoppers to be early adopters in using their digital currency as a method of everyday payment.”

“We have come a long way since the full rollout in February 2023,” adds Carel van Wyk, founder of Money Badger, which manages the interface between the retailer and the crypto platforms.

“Working with local crypto-currency companies to integrate the Pick n Pay QR into their apps required much negotiation and technical work, but it has paid off as we see significant volumes driven through them.”

Van Wyk notes that delegates at the Adopting Bitcoin 2024 Cape Town crypto event were impressed by SA’s adoption of crypto-currencies.

“There has been a shift away from the use of crypto as a purely speculative asset, towards what it was originally intended for – to be engaged with as a digital currency, increasing spending, which has led to an increase in merchant demand.”

Moodley concludes: “Crypto payments, which continue to grow month-on-month, fit into our Ways2Pay strategy of giving more customers mechanisms to pay in our stores. This is part of Pick n Pay’s journey to a less-dependent-on-cash economy, and one that drives financial inclusion, which is a priority for the company.”