Hong Kong retailers to accept Bitcoin at point of sale

Whilst Hong Kong authorities are showing reluctance towards cryptocurrency, it’ll soon be possible to pay via Bitcoin at over 5,000 locations in the area…

Retailers in Hong Kong will soon accept in Bitcoin alongside Apple Pay, Visa and other cashless payment options.

5,500 handheld Point Of Sale (POS) devices will be distributed by Indonesian startup Pundi X by the end of August, company CEO Zac Cheah told the South China Morning Post.

A recent trial was a success, said Cheah, and now the company was moving to expand on its pilot studies in Indonesia.

He said: “Hong Kong is the perfect place for us to do a test drive before a large scale rollout as there are many tourists, expats, and early tech adopters.”

When shoppers make cashless payments using cryptocurrency, their coins are exchanged into fiat currencies like the US or Hong Kong dollar in real time, claim Pundi X.

The move would be a serious boost for Bitcoin as a currency in South-East Asia. Elsewhere in the world, the number of retailers now accepting Bitcoin is trending downwards as companies recoil from slow processing times and high levels of price volatility.

US travel supermarket Expedia dropped Bitcoin as a payment method in July after four years, citing ongoing issues with the speed payments are confirmed, and the problems of customer refunds given the irreversable nature of Bitcoin transactions.

The Pundi X decision to rollout point of sale devices may seem a curious development, given the Hong Kong government’s aversion to cryptocurrencies in general. Hong Kong’s Monetary Authority has not officially regulated against Bitcoin, but points to 2015 laws which state that digital currencies should not be treated on the same level as fiat, and cannot be counted as payments.

The central bank’s Deputy Chief Executive Arthur Yuen warned the public in a June press release not to be fooled by cryptoexchanges who use traditional banking language like “deposits”, when in fact there is little to no recourse for investors if exchanges are hacked or otherwise compromised.

Major centralised exchanges like Coinrail, BitGrail, Bithumb and Coincheck have all seen hacks in 2018, losing hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of cryptocurrency.

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