South Korean bitcoin services company Coinplug is rolling out pre-paid bitcoin gift cards to around 24,000 convenience stories across the country, with 8,000 7-Eleven stores already participating.
The company says its 'okBitcard' offering will be on sale in other major chains by the end of January. With those numbers, it will be the most widespread distribution of its kind in the world to date.
Cards are printed with fiat values of 10,000, 30,000 and 50,000 South Korean won (approximately $10, $30 and $50). To protect against theft and deal with bitcoin's unpredictable price, the cards are activated only at point-of-sale.
okBitcard comes hot on the heels of another convenience store-based service in Asia: BitoEX's integration with 5,000 in-store kiosks in Taiwan. By selling physical cards, Coinplug is eliminating the need for customers to learn how to use the kiosks or use SMS messages to authenticate purchases.
Winning over newcomers
Coinplug's Richard Yun told CoinDesk that the cards make bitcoin easier for the average consumer to buy, potentially winning over newcomers who might find the experience of buying bitcoin through an online exchange or face-to-face daunting.
"When users redeem okBitcards, they automatically get an instant wallet. It's good for people who find it hard to buy BTC like teenagers, and buying for gifts etc."
The process works as follows: A customer purchases a card over the counter and the cashier prints out a receipt with an individual PIN code. The purchaser then redeems the bitcoin using either the okBitcard mobile app or the okBitcard website.
The physical card itself, therefore, represents fiat value only and does not need to carry any bitcoin value. Coinplug's exchange issues the required amount of digital currency when the card is redeemed.
As well as putting bitcoin front and center in mainstream view, the cards are a means of easily acquiring bitcoins in smaller amounts, and of transferring bitcoin value from person to person without needing a wallet or Internet connection.
Exploring new trends
Coinplug is also exploring other options in "online-to-offline" (O2O) payments, which Yun believes is part of a world payments trend.
Its Android wallets can now send and receive bitcoin via NFC on compatible devices, rather than with QR codes.
Coinplug is also launching its second locally produced bitcoin ATM, made by bank ATM manufacturer Nautilus Hyosung. The machine will be located in the public foyer of Korea University's computer science department, which held a bitcoin forums for its students in September last year.
The company says its ‘okBitcard’ offering will be on sale in other major chains by the end of January. With those numbers, it will be the most widespread distribution of its kind in the world to date.
Cards are printed with fiat values of 10,000, 30,000 and 50,000 South Korean won (approximately […]