In brief

  • South Korean convenience store chain CU will let customers pay using the Paycoin cryptocurrency.
  • CU says that the cryptocurrency reduces the burden of high credit card settlement fees on retailers.
  • It's the second crypto that CU has integrated, following the Terra stablecoin in 2019.

CU, South Korea’s largest convenience store chain, has added support for Paycoin (PCI), enabling customers to pay using the cryptocurrency in its stores.

Users of crypto payment app PayProtocol Wallet can use the app to scan barcodes in store to convert the product price into Paycoin; payment fees for using the cryptocurrency are 1%, half that of a credit card.

According to CU, which has more than 14,000 physical locations in South Korea, the PCI cryptocurrency reduces the burden of high credit card settlement fees on retailers.

The team behind Paycoin has worked with Korean payment processors including SSG Pay in recent months; PCI can be used at Starbucks, the Shin Sae Gae department store, and many other stores through the SSG Pay app.

The PayProtocol wallet, which allows users to store PCI alongside cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Ethereum, recently surpassed 300,000 users.

Integrating crypto in Asia

PCI is the second cryptocurrency CU has integrated since October 2019, when it partnered with the CHAI mobile payments app to add support for the Terra stablecoin.

At the time, CU said that it is difficult to integrate top cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin due to their volatility. To address the issue, Asian companies that have integrated major cryptocurrencies have secured deals with local crypto exchanges to automatically convert crypto to fiat upon receiving it.

For example, Bic Camera, Japan’s leading electronics retailer, partnered with cryptocurrency exchange bitFlyer in 2017 to process Bitcoin payments to fiat.

Directly integrating stablecoins and crypto assets developed specifically to handle payments for merchants is another way of accepting cryptocurrencies without being exposed to high volatility.

So far, CU and BGF Retail have only chosen to work with companies that have local partnerships and connections. It’s unlikely that major South Korean retailers will directly integrate Bitcoin and other top cryptocurrencies in the near-term, unless it’s part of a larger deal with a local cryptocurrency exchange.