Russian Gym Chain Starts Accepting Bitcoin for Membership
Russian-based sports gym chain NanoFitness has announced it will begin accepting Bitcoin as payment for membership and related services.
‘We Were Interested in FinTech-Innovations’
While a merchant announcing the acceptance of bitcoin has become a daily occurrence and not nearly as revolutionary as it was several years ago, it’s not every day that the business is based in Russia.
The St. Petersburg registered company posted the announcement on its social media page [loosely translated]:
The #NanoFitness fitness-studio, which launched its franchise chain several months ago and known by the #FutureFitness slogan, has started selling its membership for #bitcoin.
Interestingly, the announcement came on January 3, Bitcoin’s eighth birthday, which was probably not a coincidence and by someone who has at least some knowledge of the world’s first cryptocurrency.
Classic bodybuilding gold medalist and NanoFitness CEO, Dmitry Karpenko made the decision to accept bitcoin after careful examination and “consultation with fintech experts and an assessment of target audience preferences,” the announcement explains.
But ultimately, the decision was made in order to solidify its image as a forward-thinking company and set itself apart from the competition in terms of customer service.
“We were interested in implementing fintech-innovations,” he continues. “And since NanoFitness has developed a tendency to be the first in the latest and greatest, there was no dispute among our colleagues about taking advantage of this opportunity and offer our clients and partners a higher level of service and interaction.”
The First of Many Business in Russia?
Given the warming stance toward Bitcoin by the Russia, as its Tax Service recently put cryptocurrencies on equal footing with foreign currencies, NanoFtiness could be the first of many businesses to (openly) begin embracing Bitcoin. This, in addition with the increasing demand for Bitcoin in Russia in general, could create a trend for small businesses who might want to take advantage of cryptocurrency’s benefits.
Indeed, the climate appears to be changing in Russia for Bitcoin. From threats of an outright ban to the turnaround acknowledgment of Bitcoin as “objective reality” by the government in just a few months.
Additionally, the company’s staff are already trained in helping their customers use bitcoin. The entrance to each gym also proudly displays a QR code, noting bitcoin as a payment option – something that probably no one could have predicted even as recently as a year ago.
While a Bitcoin ban appears to be now off the table, Bitcoin is still in a sort of quasi-legal area as a “foreign currency” in the country. So exactly how the authorities will react to a business accepting a currency other than the Ruble is anyone’s guess at this point. Though there’s a pretty good chance now that we’ll see a hands-off approach, especially when you can buy coffee at Sberbank’s headquarters in Moscow.
Suddenly, the future of Bitcoin in Russia appears to be brighter than ever. Meanwhile, Karpenko adds,
We now have a cutting-edge, and I won’t be afraid to say, in-demand instrument corresponding to the spirit of the times and our philosophy. Besides, we’re NanoFitness.
Will other Russian businesses follow or will the authorities clamp down on new payment options? Share your thoughts below!
Images courtesy of shutterstock, econotimes.com, vk.com