SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Picking up some groceries? Supermarket kiosks mean you can now add bitcoin to your shopping list. But should you?
Kiosks are popping up in Hannaford, Shaw’s, and Tops grocery stores around Vermont. It’s called Coinme and it gives consumers direct access to bitcoin cryptocurrency. In fact, you can buy just $1 worth of bitcoin.
“Being able to use cash at a kiosk you actually get instant access to the bitcoin. So people actually are turning cash into essentially digital cash and they can send it to nearly any phone in the world and that’s the beauty of the blockchain and bitcoin itself,” said Neil Bergquist, a co-founder of Coinme.
They are now in more than 20 stores in Vermont.
According to the Department of Financial Regulation, cryptocurrency has seen an explosion of use in the past several years.
In 2019, just 44,000 cryptocurrency transactions occurred in Vermont, resulting in $15 million of volume. But in 2021, there were 1.6 million transactions that totaled $800 million of volume.
Bergquist says bitcoin has many uses.
“Bitcoin is used as a store of value because it will never be more than 21 million bitcoin produced. It’s also used as a medium of exchange because any phone or computer can now receive, store and send bitcoin, which is really interesting because people can now hold their own money versus having to keep that money in a bank,” he said.
However, DFR Commissioner Mike Pieciak says to be wary of what the market is like. He says it’s highly volatile, there are scams associated with bitcoin use and it has a significant impact on the environment with one bitcoin transaction equating to the same amount of energy as powering the typical American home for two months.
“You really don’t want to put your retirement money, you don’t want to put your savings, you don’t want to put your emergency fund in crypto. You really just want to put your speculative money or the money you are willing to lose in crypto,” Pieciak advised.
Vermont Retail & Grocers Association President Erin Sigrist says there’s been definite interest from the public along with the grocers to have access to crypto in their stores. The VRGA wants customers to know what they are getting into.
“We do suggest customers have a solid understanding of a system before they jump in,” Sigrist said. “Bitcoin is fairly new in today’s society.”
Click here to find the locations of the kiosks from Coinme.
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