Bitit, a Paris-based startup, has launched its in-person Bitcoin programme in over 100,000 worldwide locations.
Bitit offers in person Bitcoin purchasing via receipts ranging from €25 to €250 that are bought from cashiers, and can be redeemed for Bitcoin. It hopes to launch its prepaid plastic and digital gift cards programme soon.
Making it easier to acquire Bitcoin
Co-founder and CEO of Bitit, Nicolas Katan, says, despite recent worries about Bitcoin, he is still a firm believer in the cryptocurrency. It allows consumers to avoid banks and credit cards, and the hefty transaction fees that come with them. And that is revolutionary, and vital as this in turn allows consumers to have greater controls over their own money.
However, he recognises that Bitcoin itself does have its own issues. Bitit hopes to solve two of the biggest, accessibility and fraud, which he says will make it easier than ever for average consumers to acquire the cryptocurrency. This is due in part to the fact that the fundamental system underpinning Bitcoin, the Blockchain, can seem incredibly complicated to those who are not technologically inclined, so they end up avoiding it.
Nicolas Katan, Co-founder and CEO of Bitit, says:
“We have a vision to democratize Bitcoin for all. Bitcoin is a really great technology. But the problem for now is that it is complicated and difficult for people to access.”
The other issue Katan believes faces Bitcoin is fraud; because of Bitcoin’s reported anonymity and low transaction fees, those wishing to launder money see it as a very useful option. This has led to high rates of fraud among in-person Bitcoin retailers, which in turn has meant retailers charge inordinate fees of up to 20% in an attempt to curb its nefarious usage.
Bitit tackles this issue without high fees by offering a system whereby people can buy up to $25 in BTC without any paperwork, but after that, they must submit a series of identity verification documents, to buy BTC up to a limit of $500.
“Our value creation is how we manage the risk. When you say Bitcoin and credit card, you think: fraud.”
How it works
Bitit has partnered with French company, Neosurf, which produces vouchers that allow you to use cash to buy a one-time use paper gift card, about the size of a receipt. These can then be redeemed for online purchases. In this case, they are used for redeeming Bitcoin. The system is very much similar to that of Flexepin in North America. These paper gift cards are available in all of Bitit’s new 100,000 locations.
Although paper gift card Bitcoin purchasing is not exactly revolutionary, having been seen before in Canada and the US, this will be the first opportunity to buy BTC with euros. Neosurf’s already wide usage has allowed Bitit to be available is such a large number of locations, compared to BitAccess’ 6,000 locations in Canada, and LibertyX’s 19,000 locations in the US.
Bitit also offers online Bitcoin purchasing, and soon the company will offer customers the ability to buy plastic gift cards and electronic vouchers to be given as gifts. At present, they are being sold as part of a trial at ‘La Maison du Bitcoin’ in Paris, a space for those working on Bitcoin-related projects to meet up. The company hopes to eventually develop its own BTC wallet in the future, as presently a third-party wallet is still required for storing Bitcoin.
Venture capital funding
The company formed with support from ‘The Family’, a Parisian startup incubator that gave Bitit $20,000 in 2015 to begin business. Already, Bitit has processed the equivalent of $60,000 in Bitcoin transactions.
Despite its recent successes, the small startup hasn’t yet raised its first round of funding, having been founded last year, but Katan says he is currently working to raise the company’s first official round of venture capital to expand his small team of three people.
Nicolas Katan explains:
“We are going to have a lot more transactions. It’s growing really fast. We have to be ready to continue to adapt our fraud system and make people know they can trust us.”