Friends of crypto currencies such as Bitcoin and Ether not only have to be immune to strong exchange rate fluctuations like the last one at the weekend, they sometimes also have difficulties exchanging their money for goods.

You can pay for your meal order at Lieferando with Bitcoin and this is also possible with the travel booking portal Expedia via the service provider Coinbase.

Otherwise, the German customer has to search for a long time until he finds a trusted dealer who sells goods or services for cryptocurrency.

Amazon had denied rumors that they wanted to accept cryptocurrencies as a means of payment;

Whether Tesla accepts Bitcoins does not seem quite so clear after the one-hand-tweets from Elon Musk.

Andreas Mihm

Business correspondent for Austria, East-Central and Southeastern Europe and Turkey based in Vienna.

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It's different in Croatia. So far, the country has made the headlines less with its efforts to use digital means of payment than with its desire to be included in the euro in 2023. But in the largest supermarket chain in the country, Konzum, since the beginning of December, anyone who has a Visa, Maestro or Diners card has also been able to pull out their digital crypto wallet to pay for toothbrushes, pampers or vegetables and fresh milk. For now, 12,000 items in the online shop could be paid for with it. So far, it has 155,000 registered users, and the associated delivery service covers metropolitan areas such as those in the capital Zagreb, Split, Zadar and Rijeka. In view of the 500,000 customers in the stationary countries every day, that seems to be a manageable number. But maybe there will be a few more online customers now.

"First class shopping experience"

Uros Kaninic, the managing director responsible for finances, sees his group at the forefront of a movement: “We are proud to be a leader in an area that is developing quickly and determining the future.” After all, they want “first choice” for customers stay and offer a first-class shopping experience as the next generation retail chain ”.

That doesn't sound bad for marketing.

When processing payments, they rely on a payment processor from the Croatian fintech Electrocoin.

Nine crypto currencies would be accepted, including Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) or the stable coins DAI, Tether or USDC, which are linked to the dollar.

Payment is similar to that of a credit card.

After selecting the digital currency, the corresponding amount is displayed and a QR code is generated.

The customer scans it with the personal code of their crypto currency and thus triggers the payment.

The confirmation of the transaction comes by email, while Konzum sends him the invoice.

Secured against exchange rate fluctuations

The customer is also protected against the sometimes sudden and abrupt fluctuations in the value of cryptocurrencies.

"Given the volatility of the cryptocurrency exchange rate, the PayCek system guarantees the buyer a fixed exchange rate that corresponds to the time the transaction is initiated."

It remains unclear whether this refers to the moment when the product appears in the electronic shopping cart or the QR code is scanned for final payment.

Other providers who can pay with crypto currencies guarantee a time span of around 10 minutes.

In any case, there would be no further costs, assures Konsum CFO Kaninic.

And he announces that he will be expanding the payment method that has just been rolled out: "We are planning to introduce payments in crypto currencies in other shops all over Croatia soon." According to Konzum, he operates 600 shops in 114 cities and twice as many villages across the country.

In 2020, according to CEO Zoran Mitreski, the chain posted earnings before depreciation, taxes and interest of just under 100 million euros.

But Konzum is part of a much larger network.

An IPO in conversation

It has been part of the Croatian Fortenova Group since spring. It was founded specifically to deal with the previous Agrocor group, which had got into serious difficulties. Fortenova is an economic power in Southeast Europe. According to its own information, the group employs 50,000 people in its core business of wholesale and retail as well as the production and sale of food. 30 million customers are served in 8 regional markets.

Since the restructuring, the owner of the trading giant has been the Russian Sberbank.

She is considering taking Fortenova public.

With chains like Konzum, Mercator or Diamant, Fortenova has "become the market leader on the Adriatic with the largest branch network and online sales in the markets of Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Serbia and Montenegro," said Konzum CEO Mitreski in an interview .

That could leave scope for more extensive crypto-financial test arrangements in the Western Balkans.

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