American grocery store chain Kroger is accepting cryptocurrency payments ahead of the holiday season.
According to an official announcement on Nov. 5, the major retailer will accept Bitcoin Cash (BCH) at all of its stores — Baker’s, City Market, Dillons, Fred Meyer, QFC and others — as well as for online purchases.
Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, said that the initiative was spurred by increased demand for cashless payments:
“Throughout the pandemic, cashless payments have been thriving, and we see cryptocurrency as a natural progression of the trend to deal less with physical money.”
In 2018, Kroger had broken ties with major payment processor Visa, citing high point-of-sale fees. The retailer eventually restored the relationship in 2019 after Kroger negotiated new terms.
Kroger had previously dabbled in the cryptocurrency space; in 2020 the firm began to offer Bitcoin (BTC) rewards at its store through crypto-based rewards platform Lolli.
Per the announcement, Kroger will “exchange the cryptocurrency for stable currencies close to the point of receipt but doesn’t rule out the possibility of eventually keeping a percentage of it on its balance sheet.”
Bitcoin Cash is a cryptocurrency based on a proof-of-work consensus mechanism that was created via a hard fork from the Bitcoin blockchain. It was initially meant to solve many of Bitcoin’s long-standing issues, notably transaction speed. The hard fork was a controversial move, with many claiming BCH to be more prone to centralization among miners thanks to its larger block sizes.
Crypto has gradually found its way into the grocery store vertical in various forms. In 2019, Safeway — another major American grocery chain — began offering Bitcoin rewards through Lolli, similar to Kroger.
Earlier this summer, crypto ATM firm Coin Cloud announced it was preparing to install machines into 29 H-E-B supermarket locations in Houston Texas.
Cryptocurrencies’ underlying blockchain technology has also been slated to play an important role in grocery. A 2019 study by research firm Gartner predicted that 20 percent of the top 10 global grocers will use blockchain by 2025.