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The operator of Austria’s first Bitcoin ATM, Coinfinity, has unveiled a voucher scheme enabling Bitcoin to be purchased from over 600 merchants nationwide.
Bitcoinbon, German for ‘Bitcoin voucher,’ centers around small shops, which will offer a till-generated voucher in exchange for euro which customers can then credit to their wallet.
A similar idea has been in operation in South Korea, with the emphasis now switching to physical gift cards over till receipts.
Coinfinity, which is headquartered in the city of Graz, already functions as an education venue for Bitcoin propagation in Austria, as well as its first BTM provider. It also facilitates purchases of bitcoins via Sofort, a German-centered payment platform, which allows customers to make direct debit purchases directly from their bank accounts without the need for a credit or debit card. The company writes:
“Bitcoinbon is our newest and biggest project so far. It offers an opportunity to obtain bitcoins via a voucher at physical point of sale outlets everywhere in Austria.”
Merchants currently participating in the scheme, which launched Monday, mostly consist of tobacconists, which are found on street corners throughout German and Austrian towns and cities. 600 outlets now offer Bitcoinbon, with plans to increase this number to over 1,200 in phase two of the rollout later this year.
Vouchers are purchased from a participating merchant, and the code is then redeemed via a dedicated website and BTC sent directly to the desired wallet. At present, fixed amounts of 25, 50 and 100 EUR are available.
Prices “are based on the EUR/BTC trading pair at the biggest exchanges offering this combination,” Coinfinity states, noting that the involvement of several parties means prices are “somewhat higher” than its own ATM and direct debit rates.
Reactions to Bitcoinbon’s introduction are seemingly positive, however with community users noting that Bitcoin awareness in Austria remains low. “Unfortunately nobody here in Austria seems to care about bitcoin,” one Reddit user responded, adding that the “only way” to spend coins in the country currently is at the online food ordering site Lieferservice.at. The service is part of the global outfit Takeaway.com, which accepts bitcoin payment throughout its international presence.
Coinfinity’s mission statement implies a wish to make major changes to the status quo in Austria, but amid a sluggish local regulatory environment, as well as developing criticism over the border in Germany, consumers are likely to remain wary.
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