ChronoPay is one of Russia’s oldest online payments providers. Company revealed that it is including bitcoin to its payment gateway, enabling all of its clients to accept the world’s most popular cryptocurrency.
According to the ChronoPay founder and chief executive Pavel Vrublevsky, although he has publicly criticized bitcoin in the past, he’s changed his point of view radically after having “thoroughly studied the subject”.
Established in 2003, ChronoPay is among Russia’s earliest online payment companies. The Moscow-based company is plugged into international payment platforms like VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro and other regional payment systems. Bitcoin will now be among them. It will be like any other payment method. There will be a bitcoin button next to other payment options during a transaction.
To facilitate payments with the cryptocurrency, Vrublevsky reveals that his company will also provide bitcoin wallets for merchants. A representative for the company revealed that tens of thousands of merchants, “from tiny t-shirt online shops to national industry leaders” are among its clientele.
In particular, two of Russia’s four largest mobile operators are ChronoPay clients, including MTS and Tele2 – the former which is the country’s biggest mobile operator with some 70 million users (2012 figures).
ChronoPay’s vast clientele includes major retail stores including the likes of Holodilnik.ru; Kupivip.ru, Sony.ru and even BMW.ru. Major news organizations like Kommersant, TheMoscowTimes and Interfax are also clients, as are charity organizations like Greenpeace and WWF among others.
Such a move by the telecom giants would be significant to be sure, if only because Russian authorities have long harbored an aggressive stance toward bitcoin adopters in the country. This time last year, the Russian Finance Ministry was pushing its bill through the Russian parliament to criminalize and ban bitcoin usage in the country. Indeed, the FinMin proposed a 2-year prison term in February 2016, only to amend it to a 7-year prison term a month later in March. The bill never went through.
Russia’s deputy finance minister Alexei Moiseev has since talked about acknowledging bitcoin in a legal capacity in 2018. Vrublevsky says legalization could be even sooner.
Still, it’s too early for big companies to show their hand in accepting bitcoin. While ChronoPay will enable bitcoin payments to all its clients, only those with their own bitcoin wallets – also provided by ChronoPay – will be able to accept the cryptocurrency. Big industry giants, like MTS, aren’t among them.
For now, the bitcoin skeptic-turned-enabler is excited about bringing bitcoin payments to the mainstream in Russia.