Technology exchange and retailer CeX is set to become the first high street retailer in the United Kingdom to integrate bitcoin payments nationwide.
CeX will roll out bitcoin payments at 30 of its 266 UK stores beginning today. More stores will join the initial group in coming weeks as staff are trained, the firm told CoinDesk.
The move follows a trial run at its Glasgow location, where a bitcoin ATM was installed and the store leadership conducted a temporary bitcoin-only payments initiative. In April, CeX began accepting and paying for consumer goods in bitcoin through its website.
The company said it is using a bespoke system that integrates Coinbase as a payments processor, and in select stores will be launching Lamassu ATMs like the one operating at its Glasgow location. CeX commercial director David Butler told CoinDesk that these ATMs were purchased using bitcoins.
Butler said that the broad integration was aimed primarily at offering alternative payment methods for its tech-savvy audience, who he credited with supporting the initiative since CeX first began looking into digital currency acceptance.
“Customers love having the choice to use bitcoin. We want to pay customers selling their technology to CeX as fast as possible and bitcoin is a great solution. Much as we offer cash, not everyone wants a wallet full of bank notes and Faster Payments into bank accounts take at least a day.”
The company said in its announcement that it intends to hold onto bitcoin earned through the integration instead of cashing out for pounds or other fiat currencies.
Lessons learned in Glasgow
The trial period in Glasgow, Butler explained, gave CeX the opportunity to field-test bitcoin acceptance. While the experience was mostly positive, he said the company benefitted from it and the process was instructive as CeX geared up for a national-level launch.
“Most encouraging was the public response to something that many people didn’t know much about prior to our launch, but showed great interest once we introduced them to bitcoin,” he said.
Noting that “we’ve written our systems” ahead of the UK launch, Butler suggested that this initiative could serve as a springboard for a global bitcoin launch.
“What we learn from rolling bitcoin out to more locations across the UK will stand us in good stead as we look at CeX operations in the US, Ireland, Australia, India, Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.”
Connecting more consumers
Despite serving a technologically inclined crowd and its long-term involvement with digital currency, CeX says it sees more work to be done in convincing consumers about the benefits of using bitcoin.
Butler remarked that bitcoin integrations offer a great way of connecting would-be users with a means of actually spending or receiving bitcoins. This means targeting misconceptions about bitcoin, including the idea that digital currency should only be used in online settings, he said.
“Bitcoin transactions in our single store in Glasgow have been 50% of those seen on webuy.com, and we fully expect the response to our taking Bitcoin in every major city in the UK to be dramatic, both for CeX and the UK bitcoin market as a whole.”
Update (09:00, 22nd October): This article has been updated to include the information that CeX also operates in Spain.
Images via Shutterstock, CeX