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The Pundi X POS device

Jakarta-based blockchain startup Pundi X has recently unveiled the Pundi X POS smart device that will enable offline retailers –from coffee shops, mini-marts, to mom-and-pop stores– to sell cryptocurrency directly to customers.

The device would enable customers, who would otherwise have little to no access to cryptocurrency, to “quickly and easily” buy or sell cryptocurrency using fiat money, bank card, mobile wallet, or the Pundi X Pass. Customers may then store it in a digital wallet or use it to make purchases.

“Less than one per cent of the global population owns cryptocurrency despite its tremendous potential because the purchasing process is far too convoluted for the man or woman in the street,” said Pundi X CEO Zac Cheah in a press statement.

“Now the mission for Pundi X is to make buying cryptocurrency as easy as buying a bottle of water by providing universal access, anytime, anywhere,” he added.

Built on the company’s existing QR code-based cashless payment app Pundi-Pundi, Pundi X POS aims to be present in 700,000 stores across Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and globally, reaching out to over 100 million users.

But like any other ambition, PundiX’s goal comes with a challenge of its own: In 2014, Indonesia’s central bank has issued a statement that forbids the use of cryptocurrencies as a payment method.

The statement was then reaffirmed in October, leading to the closure of two Indonesia-based cryptocurrency startups Bitbayar and Toko Bitcoin.

In an interview with e27, Cheah stressed the startup’s commitment to follow the rules.

“… What we will do is that we will allow people to buy and sell cryptocurrency, and when they sell it, they can [exchange it to] Indonesian Rupiah, so they can use the Indonesian Rupiah to buy things. The process is seamless and we don’t use cryptocurrency as a currency in Indonesia,” he explained.

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Promoting Bitcoin in a cash-heavy society

Prior to starting Pundi X, Cheah was the Chief Standards Officer at Opera Software as well as the CEO and Founder of Wozzla. He had been living in China for years and was fascinated by fintech experience in the country.

“China didn’t start as a developed market like Silicon Valley … But the fintech experience grew really fast that it is now one of the top experiences in the world,” he said.

“We wanted to target very exciting markets so we decided to try to see if Indonesia is receptive to the idea; we launched the cashless experience with Pundi-Pundi [in February] and now we are launching the blockchain, cashless experience,” he added.

But in addition to having a low number of citizens having access to financial services, Indonesia also relies heavily on the use of cash.

Its government is still pushing for the greater use of e-wallet among the society, with unicorn startups such as Go-Jek aiming to make its cashless payment system readily available for transactions outside of the Go-Jek platform.

This situation pushes Pundi X to come up with a strategy to introduce its service in the market.

Apart from rolling-out the products by themselves through their office in the country, the startup also partners with several mass organisations and government institutions.

In Q1 2018, it is set to launch services with NU Cash, a payments app belonging to Nadhlatul Ulama, one of the biggest socio-religious organisation in Indonesia. It will also launch similar partnership with Bulog Pay, a payments app belonging to state-owned agency for food supply.

It has also inked partnership with fintech services provider E2Pay.

“We want to focus on building the ecosystem and the bigger the ecosystem is, the better for people to use. Essentially we are providing an angle in the blockchain usage,” Cheah said.

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A busy year

Though its management and operations is centered in Jakarta, Pundi X also has an R&D centre in Shenzhen, China.

In 2018, the startup plans to open another office in South Korea, and the startup displayed its ambitious goals of entering North America and Europe by the same year on its website.

It also plans for an ICO starting in January 21, 2018. The ICO will continue until January 31 or whenever the startup manage to raise US$47 million. The company plans to allocate 67 per cent of ownership to the public, with 68 per cent of funds being allocated for offline promotions and installations (assuming it manages to raise 100,000 ETH).

The startup named Bitcoin ATM as its primary competition, and Cheah is confident with their ability to compete with them.

“There are 1,700 Bitcoin ATM machines globally and we plan to ship 700,000 POS devices in three years, so I think we have a good chance to compete,” he closed.