El Corte Inglés, the third largest department store in the world and Spain’s biggest, is the latest established retailer to jump into crypto. The company is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency exchange, Spanish website El Confidencial reported (link in Spanish), enlisting Deloitte to help develop a platform.
While cryptocurrency is still far from widely used, the Spanish retailer would be joining a growing but disparate list of companies dabbling in cryptocurrencies that includes Overstock.com, Starbucks, and AT&T. Sotheby’s, meanwhile, also began accepting bitcoin and ethereum last year for its auctions, including the sale of a more than 100-carat diamond.
By accepting crypto, companies say they are meeting customers where they are. Not only does it help increase how much consumers spend, but it helps attract a new, younger shopper, something that department stores urgently need.
Western government regulators, however, have warned consumers about the risks of holding crypto. Earlier this month, the White House said digital assets can pose a “significant financial risk” to consumers and businesses alike, while European supervisory authorities issued a statement last week saying crypto is not suited for most retail consumers as an investment or as a means of payment or exchange because of its volatility.
El Corte Inglés started out in 1935 as a tailor’s shop, eventually expanding its business to encompass not just retail by way of department stores and grocery markets, but travel, property management, and insurance too.
Last year, the retail giant filed an EU patent for “bitcor” for use in financial services. It also signed a deal with financial services company Grupo Mutua with the idea to expand asset management services to El Corte customers. Bitcor will be among the offerings in those plans, according to El Confidencial.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.