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Switzerland's SBB Railway Offers Bitcoin at 1,000 Kiosks

Swiss railway system SBB will soon offer Bitcoin sales through its train ticket machines. On November 11 those with a Switzerland-based phone number and a QR readable wallet will be able to purchase the cryptocurrency from associated stations.

Also read: Switzerland Won’t ‘Obstruct’ Bitcoin Startups, Eases Regulations

 Switzerland’s National SBB Railway Sells Bitcoin

sbb_logoThe SBB railway service has one of Europe’s busiest international border stations. Now the company will offer bitcoin at ticket kiosks — due to its current popularity in the region. SBB said in Switzerland there is an “increasing number of places accepting bitcoin.” The company is selling the cryptocurrency in increments between CHF 20 and CHF 500. However the station itself will not be accepting bitcoin for train tickets.

The Swiss Federal Railways-owned SBB explains on its website how to top up a bitcoin wallet using any SBB ticket machine. Users simply select “mobile top up” and select bitcoin on the kiosk’s interface. Then users scan their wallet’s QR code and select the amount they’d like to purchase. After confirming the amount, Swiss residents must provide a valid phone number and then a security code (mTAN) it sends to the phone.

Testing The Bitcoin Market Waters

SBB Ticket Kiosk
SBB Ticket Kiosk

SBB has a significant distribution network with over 1,000 ticket machines. According to the publication Handelszeitung, the kiosks will charge a 6% fee on top of bitcoin sales. Handelszeitung said Zug company SweePay initiated the bitcoin kiosk deal. Credit card payments are currently not available, but that could change in the future. There is also a set maximum of 5,000 Swiss francs for bitcoin purchases per year.

The national railway confirmed with Handelszeitung that kiosk sales mark the beginning of a two-year test run. The Swiss news outlet reported SBB wants to see whether or not there is a substantial market for cryptocurrency purchases. Spokesperson Christian Ginsig told newspaper Der Bund that for now, users cannot obtain tickets using the digital currency. “It is a niche business for SBB,” Ginsig detailed. “SBB tickets cannot be paid with the virtual currency,” the SBB spokesperson added.

“Crypto-Valley” Bolstered the SBB and SweePay Partnership  

SweePay was instrumental in creating the partnership. Zug is a well-known city in Switzerland with a significant Bitcoin community. Otherwise known as “Crypto-Valley”, the city believes it is the Silicon Valley of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

Back in early May, the city of Zug revealed it would be testing a system that accepts bitcoin for government services. This would allow Zug citizens to pay for public services using bitcoin, but with the possibility of altcoins in the future.

“We want to express our openness for the new technologies and to gain their own experience at an early stage. And we will invite FinTech companies in the Zug region to exchange ideas with the city council. It is our goal to get a better understanding of their needs for an optimal development in our living and economic area,” said Zug city council president Dolfi Müller.

The sale of bitcoin throughout Switzerland’s busiest railway stations will give cryptocurrency advocates more locations to purchase. If the niche program succeeds, as is very possible, SBB may enable ticket purchase with the cryptocurrency in the near future. For now, though the availability throughout its 1,000+ kiosks is a great start.

What do you think about SBB enabling Bitcoin sales through its ticket kiosks? Let us know in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock and SBB websites.


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Tags in this story
Christian Ginsig, Crypto Valley, Dolfi Müller, SBB Railway, SweePay, Switzerland
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Jamie Redman

Jamie Redman is a financial tech journalist living in Florida. Redman has been an active member of the cryptocurrency community since 2011. He has a passion for Bitcoin, open source code, and decentralized applications. Redman has written thousands of articles for news.Bitcoin.com about the disruptive protocols emerging today.