Leading Austrian telecommunications and mobile services provider A1 has enabled cryptocurrency payments in select company shops across the country as a pilot program to see the acceptance of the digital assets.
Commanding at least 84% of the mobile phone users market in the country, the company becomes the biggest in the country to accept payments in bitcoin and other leading altcoins.
In a report by Austrian tech news publication FutureZone, the company announced the support of six cryptocurrencies including Ethereum [ETH], Stellar [XLM], Ripple’s XRP, Dash and Litecoin [LTC]. The FutureZone report also stated that to effect this new service, A1 has partnered with leading local banks Salamantex, Ingenico and Concardis. Price volatility will be absorbed by these banking partners.
But why has the biggest mobile phone services provider decided to venture into cryptocurrency?
It seems there is a pain point in accessing services especially for tourists visiting the country. The dominant payments services in Austria are Alipay and WeChat which may not be familiar to most tourists as well as not available to them anyway depending on their countries of origin. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies offer a convenient way for these people to access services without having to deal with registrations for payments solutions such as banks and online solutions providers.
In a statement, Markus Schreiber, who is the Head of A1 Business Marketing at A1 said that:
“Paying with digital currencies is becoming more and more prevalent internationally, and every industry is affected. Whether it’s the coffee-to-go or the movie ticket, cash is an obsolete model. With our pilot operation in the A1 shops, we are testing the demand and acceptance of digital currencies in Austria.”
The shops that will be used for the pilot program include the A1 Shops in Vienna Kärntnerstraße, Wien Mitte Mall, Krems Bühl Center, Graz Herrengasse, Innsbruck Kaufhaus Tyrol, Salzburg Europark and Linz Landstraße which are based across Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria, Tyrol, and Salzburg regions.
“As a pioneer, A1 assumes a great responsibility with regard to the digitization of our society,” added Schreiber. “The safety of consumers and trade, as well as compliance with all legal requirements and provisions have top priority. Before the A1 Payment portfolio will be expanded by digital currencies and officially available to business customers, a multi-stage trial will now be carried out, starting with [the] selected A1 shops “.