Leading Russian online retailer Ulmart on Wednesday announced its plans to start accepting bitcoin payments beginning on September 1.
Largest Russian Online Retailer
Founded in 2008 and headquartered in St. Petersburg, Ulmart has over 450 infrastructure facilities including fulfillment centers and pick-up points. The Russian version of Amazon.com is present in more than 240 cities and towns across Russia.
A study by Trackad shows that Ulmart is the largest online retailer in Russia with 20 million monthly visitors, 30,000 daily orders, and 12 million items of goods and services. Trackad is a data management company used by the top 100 e-commerce Russian websites.
According to Ulmart’s announcement on Wednesday:
Ulmart, Russia’s largest online retailer, plans to start accepting bitcoin as a form of payment from 1 September 2017.
In addition to items listed on its website, the company also has a marketplace with growing inventory. “By year-end, an additional one million items could be on offer from third-party sellers,” the announcement reads.
Bitcoin payments will not be available for all products listed on the website and the company has not decided which products can be purchased with bitcoin. However, higher-priced items are likely to be targeted first, Ulmart revealed, adding that:
Items such as used cars and apartments, which may soon be sold via the marketplace, will be well positioned for purchase by bitcoin.
Russian’s Regulatory Environment
Russia has a long history of changing its mind about the legality of Bitcoin. At times, it even considered an outright ban of the cryptocurrency, punishable by jail time for those holding bitcoins. In February 2014, Russia issued warnings against using bitcoin citing how it could be used for money laundering or financing terrorism.
After several years without legal exchanges available to the Russian people, face-to-face bitcoin trading at markets like Localbitcoins have flourished, boosting Russia up among the largest bitcoin trading markets by volume. Then last month, Russia considered recognizing bitcoin as a legitimate financial instrument starting in 2018, in order to fight money laundering.
The Chief International Officer of Ulmart, Brian Kean, said: “we welcome the willingness that the Russian government has demonstrated with regards to the review of the Bitcoin technology.” He looks forward to cooperating with the government in order to “play a major role” in making Bitcoin part of “the efforts to develop ‘smart’ economy and cities.”
Dmitry Kostygin, the Chairman and majority shareholder of Ulmart said that the company started closely monitoring the market and regulatory environment for bitcoin use in Russia since March 2014. He added:
Life is ever in flux. Bitcoin was created to offer security against fluctuations in hard currency. As the technology behind the crypto-currency slips unseen into our everyday lives via the Internet of Things, it has become one of those ‘why not’ moments.
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Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Ulmart
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