From burgers to payment terminals: who in Kazan is trying to 'hype' themselves using popularity of cryptocurrency?

Bitcoins can be bought in a grocery store and spent in a hookah lounge, but businesses often do this only to advertise themselves, experts say

From burgers to payment terminals: who in Kazan is trying to 'hype' themselves using popularity of cryptocurrency? Photo: kiosks.ru

Against the backdrop of popularity of cryptocurrencies, new related lines of business are appearing in Kazan. Grocery stores have already started to sell bitcoins through terminals, charging a 'draconian' commission, but for now it is possible to spend them only in few places. Besides, in Tatarstan there already exists an investment fund focusing entirely on cryptocurrencies. In addition to ITCoin, another cryptocurrency is to be launched soon, this time Islamic. Read more about this in the article of Realnoe Vremya.

Insidious cryptocurrency terminals

While the bitcoin exchange rate is breaking another ceiling, in Kazan there have appeared first terminals where you can buy bitcoins. The advertisement about the sale of such terminals can be found on Avito, and the first machine has been already installed in one of the shops on Vosstaniya Street. The cryptocurrency here is sold for rubles, however, it is necessary to have a bitcoin wallet and enter its number (which is not easy — it's a long sequence of letters and numbers) or scan the QR code of the wallet.

However, such terminal is not the best and certainly not the cheapest way to buy the cryptocurrency. According to Ilnur Mukhtov, the owner of a Kazan hookah lounge where they have begun to accept bitcoins since August, the commission in such terminals is around 30%. Only at such values they will pay off.

RusBit, the company in the city of Ufa producing these terminals, gave slightly different information. According to them, the commission is 100 rubles, but the rate can be established by the owner and it is not visible to the end user! In the end, the 'skim' estimated by RusBit can really reach 30%, with 3% going to the company-manufacturer.

According to company estimates, the turnover of the terminal in Ufa is about 7 BTC per month, that is about $49,000 at the current exchange rate.

Realnoe Vremya managed to find several references to cryptocurrency exchange offices in Kazan on specialized forums. However, it seems that they are working, to put it mildly, 'illegaly': for example, their location is revealed only to clients ready to make a deal. We failed to contact the administrators of these exchanges.

An advertisement of the sale of such terminals can be found on Avito. Photo: avito.ru

Hookah, coffee and burgers for bitcoins

These terminals are not the first case in Kazan when entrepreneurs want to make money on the popularity of bitcoins somehow. One of the pioneers in this matter was a hookah lounge on Bauman Street. According to Mukhtov, the number of payments with bitcoins there is small, but he acknowledged that such function was introduced more to create hype around the establishment. ''I wouldn't say that the demand is big. Sometimes it happens that there are several payments with bitcoins in a week, sometimes two payments in one day. People more talk about bitcoins than they actually use them, but if they buy — not to pay,'' he said.

The Prosecutor's office of Tatarstan has already negatively commented on the payment with bitcoins in public places. The ministry stated that currently the Russian legislation does not provide the use of virtual currencies as means of payment. Also, the Prosecutor's office added that the Central Bank supports the technology of blockchain, ''but against the use of surrogates, including the virtual currency bitcoin.''

Nevertheless, other institutions also have become interested in cryptocurrencies. So, the Kazan establishments of the franchise Coffee Like in October announced its intention to accept the cryptocurrency. It will be possible to pay for a cup of coffee with bitcoins and cryptocurrency Etherеum. It is still unknown when this feature appears.

However, the experience of Moscow coffee houses shows that it is not really about the payment with cryptocurrency. To avoid troubles with the prosecutor's office, the process is represented as a kind of special offer: ''Top up the bartender's bitcoin wallet and get coffee as a gift.''

It is possible that the cryptocurrency will come to Kazan fast food chains. For example, the fast food chain Burger King announced in the summer that it would begin to accept bitcoins by the end of 2017, and even launched in August its own cryptocurrency WhopperCoin. However, already in September, the prosecutor's office became interested in their activities in this field.

The fast food chain Burger King launched in August its own cryptocurrency. Photo: mining-cryptocurrency.ru

''There has been concluded a property deal for Etherеum in Volgograd''

Lenar Mukhametzyanov, director of the project on blockchain technologies, co-founder of the company Future in apps, did not rule out that Kazan may enter into transactions for the sale of real estate for cryptocurrency. According to him, there have been such precedents in Russia, and in Kazan there are supply and demand.

''Recently, there has been concluded a property deal for Etherеum in Volgograd. I have not heard yet about such cases in Tatarstan, but I think there are those who wish. Even from the point of view of the Civil code, it is a barter, barter agreement, so there is nothing wrong with it.''

Cryptocurrency has come to Islamic finance, investment funds and agriculture

There are larger cryptocurrency projects in Tatarstan, the above mentioned Ilnur Mukhtov told about two of them. So, in Kazan, in 2017 it was launched the investment fund Aeon Capital Fund, which portfolio is focused solely on cryptocurrencies. The fund invests in mining of cryptocurrencies, makes long-term and short-term investments, as well as participates in ICO projects. According to Mukhtov's estimates, the portfolio's yield is around 15-17% for the first quarter of existence. However, the assets of the fund are still quite modest — less than $100,000.

Besides, Mukhtov is the mastermind of the project Muslim Ocean pay — the Islamic cryptocurrency. This project is more ambitious, in the process of ICO (initial placement of the cryptocurrency), Muslim Ocean pay plans to attract $200 million. The cryptocurrency is based on the eponymous mobile app, created by programmers from the USA. They plan to provide the value of cryptocurrencies using silver: one unit, that is, a coin, of Muslim Ocean pay will equal one gram of 999 silver plus ten percent.

According to Mukhtov, they are making a team for the project. In total, for realization of the it is necessary to gather a team of 40 people.

Earlier in Tatarstan there was launched another cryptocurrency project, which was supposed to solve the 'insecurity' of virtual money. We are talking about ITCoin, cryptocurrency secured by meat of breeding bulls. It is assumed that the buyer of ITcoin invests in purchase of the animal, which in the future will be grown on the farm. Due to the growth of the bull the stock increases along with the value of the investment. At the same time, ITCoins can be used as a standalone cryptocurrency, that is, to pay for anything where it is accepted.

When asked to tell about how things are going now with 'bellowed cryptocurrency', Ryndin sent a picture of a cup of coffee, explaining that he bought it for ITCoin (not specifying where).

Mukhtov is the mastermind of the project Muslim Ocean pay — the Islamic cryptocurrency. Photo: golos.io

''The train with PR has left the station''

In general, Lenar Mukhametzyanov believes that the related to cryptocurrency businesses exist as long as the legal status of the cryptocurrency in Russia is not defined. But now they are all at least in the 'black zone'.

''I think that in the future the opportunity to use cryptocurrency in purchase of goods and services will be denied. It will be possible to buy and sell the cryptocurrency, but not to use it for the provision of services and sale of goods. Already now, I think, it is a violation of the Tax code and the Federal law.''

At the same time, he said that manufacturers of terminals for cryptocurrency have invented a scheme by which the sale of the cryptocurrency remains in the legal field. Details of the scheme are not yet clear, the company only said that they undertake the responsibility for the activities and issues on relations with regulatory authorities.

''Today many businesses are trying to advertise themselves using the cryptocurrency 'hype','' said Mukhtov. ''I was contacted by different companies — for example, car washes, which also wanted to do it [to introduce the payment with the cryptocurrency] for advertising. I tell them: if you do, you will not get the effect that you want to get. The media usually write about those who does something first. The train with PR in this direction has already left the station.''

Realnoe Vremya online newspaper