French company Keplerk has confirmed that consumers will once again be able to buy Bitcoin at one of more than 5200 tobacconists countrywide.
According to a press release, customers can only purchase Bitcoin coupons in flavors of €50, €100, or €250.
Cryptocurrency remains a technical beast for many French citizens who have little knowledge about digital wallets, keys, or exchanges. And although exchanges are much cheaper to buy from they aren’t particularly appealing to laypeople.
Keplerk Still a Trusted Middleman?
CCN reported earlier this year that Keplerk had decided to make their Bitcoin service available in January despite a fuzzy regulatory environment in France.
Less than two months later the company pulled their in-store devices claiming they were: “a victim of their own success”.
Keplerk makes use of its own cryptocurrency wallet. Comments for the app were, however, apparently disabled on various app stores after the FinTech startup suddenly suspended its tobacconist sales in February.
French news outlet BFM TV reports that some customers had to wait up to eight hours to receive their Bitcoin.
A quick analysis of BTC block times reveals that a block took an average of between 8 to 12 minutes to clear in January and February.
The industry standard for confirming a transaction is around 6 blocks. In other words, that makes one hour a reasonable clearance time for most transactions. Something doesn’t fit.
Buying Bitcoin on Your Behalf
It appears that Keplerk is taking orders, buying Bitcoin from an exchange, then sending it on to customer wallets. They then add a hefty 5.5% fee for the service, at least for €250 coupons.
BFM reports that transaction times have since shortened but it’s too early to tell. The effects of the Hong Kong protests are not far from the minds of most French people who are still grappling with their own issues in the yellow vest movement.
Provided the service actually sticks this time, buying Bitcoin at a 5% premium is probably still better than not buying it at all.