In a first, the operator of Switzerland’s national railway service will start selling bitcoin on its ticket machines.
Schweizerische Bundesbahnen or the SBB, Switzerland’s national railway operator, will allow customers to trade Swiss francs for bitcoin using its ticket kiosks. Unveiled on its website, the service will enable cryptocurrency adopters or first-time users to buy bitcoin between 20 CHF to 500 CHF. That’s approximately between $20-$503 USD, per transaction.
Customers will be need to have a mobile wallet and a Swiss phone number, the requirements read, with an accompanying guide on SBB’s website to help first-time users choose a bitcoin wallet. The benefits, as listed by the railway operator, points to bitcoin as a currency that can be used worldwide, with “very low” transaction fees and an increasing rate of acceptance of the cryptocurrency around the world (the website lists the number as 10,000 locations worldwide).
While details are currently scarce, Swiss publication Handels-Zeitung reveals that the SBB will sell the cryptocurrency among its ticketing machines – of which there are over a 1000 – over the next two years. The new offering to sell bitcoin will launch as soon as November 11, developed in partnership with SweePay, a Zug-based digital payments firm.
The ticketing kiosks will accept fiat francs in cash or by debit card, with no payment possible by a credit card. The reported transaction fee to convert francs to the cryptocurrency is 6 percent. Furthermore, a maximum of CHF 5000 worth of bitcoins (approximately 7.3 BTC in current value) will be permitted annually through the ticketing machines in adherence to regulatory guidelines.
SBB’s move to sell bitcoin with its ticketing machines is a notable endorsement of the cryptocurrency to be sure but Switzerland has already proven to be a bitcoin-friendly in the past. Another significant endeavor to test the cryptocurrency among its citizens is currently underway, with the lakeside town of Zug accepting bitcoin as payment for municipal services. Zug, incidentally where SBB partner SweePay is based, is commonly referred to as ‘Crypto Valley’ for opening its doors for startups and companies in the bitcoin and blockchain industry.
“With bitcoin, we’re sending a message. We in Zug want to get out in front of future technologies,” said Dolfi Müller, mayor of Zug, which is also among the world’s lowest tax regimes.
Interestingly, SBB’s ticketing machines will not accept bitcoin as payment for train tickets, despite selling the cryptocurrency. If the selling-experiment proves successful among everyday users, it could only be a matter of time before Swiss train travelers begin using bitcoin immediately after buying it.
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