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Bitcoin PoS maker eyes India entry

(FILES) This file photo taken on July 04, 2017 shows an image of Bitcoin and US currencies displayed on a screen as delegates listen to a panel of speakers during the Interpol World Congress in Singapore.
Bitcoin surged through the $5,000 level on October 12, 2017 for the first time since the launch of the unregulated virtual currency more than 8 years ago. / AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN

(FILES) This file photo taken on July 04, 2017 shows an image of Bitcoin and US currencies displayed on a screen as delegates listen to a panel of speakers during the Interpol World Congress in Singapore. Bitcoin surged through the $5,000 level on October 12, 2017 for the first time since the launch of the unregulated virtual currency more than 8 years ago. / AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN   | Photo Credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN

Jakarta’s Pundi X plans global roll-out of 1 lakh devices; ‘India accounts for 10% of bitcoin trade volume’

The Jakarta-based Pundi X is planning to bring cryptocurrency Point of Sale (POS) devices into India. This is significant given that the government, in its Budget last week, had made it clear that cryptocurrencies were not legal tender in India.

“We respect the sovereignty of the local currency,” Zac Cheah, CEO of Pundi X told The Hindu. “We have developed a platform based on blockchain technology to facilitate secure transactions.”

‘Users to swipe cards’

The company has developed a POS device that store owners can use. The device interacts with a ‘pass card’ that customers hold, similar to a debit card but only for cryptocurrencies.

“Essentially, it is the first device that allows people to use a card to purchase items using the cryptocurrency that they have,” Mr. Cheah said. “Imagine our device, which is slightly bigger than a mobile phone, as a POS terminal that is powered by blockchain technology.”

“For example, if you go to a convenience store and you want to buy a loaf of bread and you are a bitcoin owner,” he explained. “So, you have a Pundi X pass card, you use the card and it will interact with our devices and you [pay] for the loaf using bitcoin.”

The key in all of this is the fact that the actual transactions will be conducted in rupees, whereas the asset being exchanged would be bitcoins.

Both the Reserve Bank of India and the government have repeatedly said that cryptocurrencies do not qualify as legal tender and hence cannot be used to conduct transactions.

‘Transactions in rupees’

Mr. Cheah said his technology helps store owners “convert a crypto currency to a local currency, so all the transactions that we do are in the local currency. What will be exchanged is the bitcoin, but the actual mode of exchange will take place in rupees.”

The idea, he said, was to change the way we use cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, moving their use value away from simple storage of value, to a real-world everyday use.

“We feel that the bitcoin movement now has to move to a real use case scenario,” Mr. Cheah said. “We want to help people to not just hold onto bitcoins, but to convert them into the local currency so that it can help the economy.”

The Pundi X devices will support all major cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, litecoin and etherium, and the company aims to roll out 100,000 devices across the world in the next three years. India will play a large part in this, and the roll out is set to begin soon, he said.

“We recently did a study on the global market and one of the focus markets was India,” Mr. Cheah said. “India is one of the biggest markets and constitutes about 10% of the trading volume of bitcoin. 50% of the trading globally is from Asia, a major [part] from Japan and South Korea.”

“The card terminals [from] Indian banks have increased to 2.7 million, compared to 1.5 million before demonetisation,” he added.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 9:09:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/bitcoin-pos-maker-eyes-india-entry/article22661318.ece

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