Swiss rail­way ticket ma­chines to sell Bit­coin dig­i­tal cur­rency

Malta Independent - - TECHNOLOGY -

Switzer­land’s na­tional rail service plans to start sell­ing the dig­i­tal cur­rency Bit­coin at sta­tions next month.

From 11 Novem­ber, cus­tomers will be able to trade Swiss francs for Bit­coins us­ing ticket ma­chines.

They will not be able to buy tick­ets with the web-based cur­rency, though.

The SBB said it had been test­ing cus­tomer de­mand for Bit­coin across the coun­try, and had de­cided to launch a two-year pi­lot project.

To buy Bit­coins, would-be pur­chasers will have to give a mo­bile phone num­ber for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Trans­ac­tions will be capped at 500 Swiss Francs ($500) each. One Bit­coin cur­rently equals around 708.64 Swiss Francs, but it is pos­si­ble to buy frac­tions of the cur­rency.

Swiss fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pany SweePay is pro­vid­ing the con­ver­sion service.

“There have been few pos­si­bil­i­ties to ob­tain Bit­coins in Switzer­land un­til now,” SBB said. “With its 1,000-plus ticket ma­chines, SBB op­er­ates a dense, aroundthe-clock dis­tri­bu­tion net­work that’s suited for more than just ticket sales.”

The ticket ma­chine sys­tem may prove pop­u­lar with peo­ple who have strug­gled to buy Bit­coins through their bank ac­counts, as many have re­ported high fees for in­ter­na­tional trans­ac­tions and a de­lay be­fore their funds ar­rive.

Bit­coin - the world’s first dig­i­tal cur­rency - has drawn in­ter­est as a way to move money around rapidly, without fees or bank in­volve­ment. Trans­fers are han­dled di­rectly be­tween users on the in­ter­net.

Back in July, the Swiss town of Zug launched a six-month scheme let­ting res­i­dents pay for pub­lic ser­vices us­ing Bit­coin. While some called the trial in­no­va­tive, oth­ers raised fears that the cur­rency was not se­cure.

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