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French tobacconists to start selling shady Bitcoin coupons — again

It's still probably not a great idea

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French tobacconists are getting another chance to sell Bitcoin BTC coupons after the scheme had to be suspended earlier this year.

Local media has reported that the scheme will restart today, allowing 5,200 tobacconists to sell coupons that can be redeemed for Bitcoin. This time round, the company behind the scheme, Keplerk, will not sell coupons for Ethereum like it did previously.

The company behind the idea, Keplerk, will sell coupons valued at €50 ($55), €100 ($110), and €250 ($175) in stores across the country.

It launched at the start of 2019, but Keplerk had to pull the plug in February.

The company says it took the decision after some users experienced delays when redeeming their cryptocurrency. “Some people took up to eight hours to receive their Bitcoin,” Keplerk CEO Adil Zkhar said.

Since February, confirmation times have fallen, but it won’t stay this way forever. If this is Keplerk’s reasoning, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the service suspended again, if confirmation times start to increase.

While confirmation times were prohibitively high, so were Bitcoin transaction fees. However, according to the report, fees have dropped from 7 percent to 5.5 percent for the €250 coupon. So it’s a little more attractive than it once was. But that doesn’t make it a good idea.

It should be noted that each coupon has a 7 percent commission that goes to Keplerk.

The scheme was announced last November, and was met with criticism from French financial regulator Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), as you might expect.

The AMF, Bank of France, and the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority issued a statement after the scheme’s initial announcement that stated the acts of purchasing, selling, and investing in Bitcoin are currently carried out outside any regulated market.

French regulators also rightly pointed out that it made no sense to buy a digital asset from a physical store. Anyone can buy cryptocurrency from an exchange desk, and while the transfer fees might be similar, users won’t have to front the additional 7 percent commission.

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Published October 10, 2019 — 11:44 UTC