While most people interested in cryptocurrencies and digital assets buy and sell them on online exchanges, offline exchanges (physical store fronts where customers can buy and sell cryptocurrencies) are seeing massive growth in transaction volume as Bitcoin continues to thrive, according to a WSJ report.
Walk-in exchanges are still rare in the U.S. and Western Europe. However, those that do exist prove that there is definitely a clientele base for in-person crypto services.
Comptoir des Cybermonnaies, a French exchange, has seen a sixfold increase in transactions since 2019. Coin Nerds, a Canadian physical crypto exchange, has processed about $119 million of transactions in 2021, after processing about $11 million in 2019.
Each physical crypto exchange operates slightly differently. However, the concept is basically the same everywhere. Customers can walk into an exchange off the street, just as they would a bank, and buy or sell cryptocurrencies with cash, credit, or via bank transfer.
While these brick and mortar exchanges have higher exchange fees than online ones (anywhere between 0.99% and 5% per transaction) these physical exchanges engage portions of the population in the crypto economy who might not otherwise feel comfortable in the crypto world or know how to access it.
This is because walk-in crypto exchanges have something that online crypto exchanges do not: in-person staff, available the moment a customer arrives, who can respond to customer questions and complaints immediately, something that online exchanges have been criticized for being slow to do.
Additionally, the accessibility of the physical location and the knowledgeable personnel who come with it creates a sense of trust and credibility for skeptical clients.
“We’re not going to have a digital revolution, for lack of a better term, without everybody participating in the ecosystem” Adam Hack, chief executive and founder of Canada-based Coin Nerds told the WSJ. “A lot of people are still grasping the concept and they still want to learn how to use it.”
According to a recent survey, not “knowing where to start” is the most challenging thing (after concerns about volatility) about buying cryptocurrency. The third-most challenging thing is consumers’ lack of trust in third party exchanges and brokers.
While physical exchanges won’t change the volatility of the crypto market, they can address the other major concerns consumers have when considering buying crypto.
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