Switzerland's national railways firm SBB has announced it will be running a two-year experiment to gauge interest in Bitcoin. Starting November 11, customers will be able to trade Swiss francs for the crypto currency through its network of more than 1000 ticket machines.
"There have been few possibilities to obtain bitcoins in Switzerland until now," SBB said. "With its 1,000-plus ticket machines, SBB operates a dense, around-the-clock distribution network that's suited for more than just ticket sales."
Swiss Railways has partnered with Swiss payments company SweePay, which will act as the intermediary for Bitcoin purchases on SBB ticket machines. Transactions will be capped at 500 Swiss Francs each — which converts to around £415 / $500 — and while Bitcoin transactions are known to be made relatively anonymously, those buying from SBB ticket machines will need to identify themselves using their mobile telephone number.
Bitcoin has drawn interest as a way to move money around rapidly, without fees or bank involvement. Back in July, the Swiss town of Zug launched a six-month scheme letting residents pay for public services using Bitcoin. The new trial will make it easier for anyone to buy Bitcoins with 1,000 ticket machines working around the clock. But while bitcoins can be purchased, they won't be accepted as payment at the machines.
Bitcoin hype has died down over the last couple of years in many parts of the world, but the crypto currency is on an upward trend, rising by 19% this month to a high of $718.