France: From January 2019 Bitcoin sale in tobacconists

In France, starting next year, it will be possible to buy bitcoin and ether in tobacconists. In cooperation with the Bitcoin provider KeplerK, the virtual currency can be purchased in 3,000 to 4,000 French tobacconists from 1st January.

French people, who have already made up their minds to stop smoking at the end of the year, must consider the following: From January, there will be one more reason to get lost in a tobacco shop. Then it should be possible in France, namely to acquire Bitcoin and ethers in tobacco shops. The cooperation between the Association of French Tobacco Traders, the business service provider Bimedia and the bitcoin provider KeplerK allows customers of three to four thousand tobacco traders to buy Bitcoin. This results from a contribution of the French radio station Europe 1.

Specifically, customers can purchase coupons for 50, 100 or 250 euros. These can then be exchanged online on the side of KeplerK for Bitcoin or Ether.

“My grandpa’s tobacconist is no longer relevant.” Philippe Coy, the president of the French Association of Tobacco Traders, wants to keep up with the times. In addition one wants to take into account also the requirements of the digitization. Last but not least, to increase customer proximity:

“We are in a transformation process, a process […] of digitizing supply, and today our message is to be as close as possible to the consumer,”

Coy told Europe 1.

There are contradictory reports of how the French central bank rates the initiative. First of all, it said on Europe 1 that the cooperation was approved by the Regulatory Authority “Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution” (ACPR). The ACPR is part of the Banque de France, the French central bank.

However, in a statement issued  November 21st, it denies having issued an explicit license to sell Bitcoin coupons in tobacco stores. So it says on the website of the Central Bank:

“Contrary to what was said this morning by some radio stations without prior review, no agreement was signed to allow the sale of Bitcoin in tobacconists. No agreement on this topic is discussed or sought. “

So command back? Not quite. Phllippe Coy does not consider approval of the new service by the Banque de France to be necessary.

“The tobacconist does not need the approval of the Banque de France to sell these coupons. Today, the KeplerK platform allows us to do that. “

The initiative is only a small stone in the mosaic of the mass adaptation of Bitcoin. This becomes clear when you look at the 4,000 participating tobacco dealers and the total number of tobacco outlets in France. Overall, there are nearly 25,000 such “Bureaux de Tabac” in France. After all, would be one of the sixth French tobacco shop in the future a point of contact for bitcoin and nicotine junkies.

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