Bitcoin Test: Pack n Pay with Bitcoin in South African 2nd Largest Supermarket

Bitcoin is surging in popularity in Africa. This digital payment system that allows users anywhere in the world to transact directly without interference from intermediaries, governments, regulators or central banks is being introduced to regular people in South Africa. This is evident as Pick n Pay, the second largest supermarket chain store in South Africa, is testing it as a payment option for a while.

The supermarket company which has spread to other regions of southern Africa, such as Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Namibia as well as Mauritius is making efforts to be ahead of its competitions in the adaptation of this new technology. Jason Peisl, an executive at Pick n Pay, explains,

“At Pick n Pay one of our key values is to embrace change and encourage innovation and leadership. To deliver on that promise we are constantly working with our technology partners to find ways in which we can deliver valuable, innovative services to our customers. Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin are still relatively new payment concepts, yet we have been able to effectively demonstrate how we are able to accept such alternative payments.“

According to the announcement made by Electrum, the South African tech company providing the cloud-based enterprise used for the transactions, this payment method is a potential world first for a major grocery retail store. Electrum MD Dave Glass says,

“We’ve worked closely with PnP for several years as a key technology provider. Our mission is to support innovative enterprises like Pick n Pay, and together we use the advanced Electrum software-as-a-service technology to move quickly on new opportunities, whilst at the same time delivering the best possible shopping experience“.

While Electrum provided the cloud-based enterprise, the Bitcoin infrastructure for the project was provided by Luno, a global Bitcoin company, active in Southeast Asia and Africa. Luno has an office in South Africa, this enables South African consumers to easily buy, sell, send and spend Bitcoin.

How do you pay with bitcoin?

According to a video demonstrating paying for goods at Pick n Pay using Bitcoin, the process is simple. First , you are required to have a bitcoin wallet app on your mobile phone. After shopping, you move to the checkout point, where the cashier will scan the products you picked and then select your payment method as Bitcoin and then print out a QR code. You will then open up your mobile Bitcoin wallet app, select the scan option and point your device camera to the QR code to scan it. After scanning the QR code, you’ll be shown the amount of Bitcoin that you will spend in the transaction on your phone screen and if you’re satisfied you simply click “Pay”.

How does the QR code work?

A QR Code
A QR Code

The interaction between your bitcoin account and that of Pick n Pay happens on the infrastructure provided by Luno. when the cashier selects Bitcoin as the payment method, the system talks to Luno for it to get the QR code. The QR code is just like the bank account number for the shop so instead of them telling you the number, a QR code is generated and you can just scan that to get the details of the amount to be paid and where it’ll be going.

QR codes are commonly used in the field of cryptographic currencies, particularly those based on and including Bitcoin. Payment addresses, cryptographic keys and transaction information are often shared between digital wallets in this way.


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