Gucci began accepting cryptocurrency in a few U.S. stores in May, and now it’s going all-in on the blockchain-based payments. As BitPay — the Italian luxury house’s chosen crypto payments platform — announced new support for two more coins on Tuesday, ApeCoin and Euro Coin, Gucci stepped up as the first major brand to accept one of these options through the platform.
With the addition of ApeCoin, its clientele will have a dozen or so options to pay for goods with tokenized digital money, rounding out a lineup that includes Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Wrapped Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Shiba Inu and 5 USD-pegged stable-coins (GUSD, USDC, USDP, DAI and BUSD).
The Italian luxury brand dipped its toe in crypto with just five stores initially, but saw fit to expand support. Today, more than two-thirds of Gucci’s U.S.-based stores accept the alternative payments, representing 70 percent of its full, directly operated network in this market. The remaining ones won’t be left out of the loop for long, though: The company plans to make those locations crypto-ready by this week, amounting to full support across its own U.S. retail operation.
According to Stephen Pair, BitPay’s chief executive officer, the platform was simply responding to demand. “We added ApeCoin and Euro Coin because customers of our luxury merchant partners asked for it,” he said in a statement.
ApeCoin is a token of the well-hyped Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection, a subsidiary of Yuga Labs. Bored Ape Yacht Club is much sought-after by celebrities and other well-heeled individuals, and ApeCoin will be the main token used across the Ape ecosystem, Web3 games, experiences and communities. ApeCoin holders can shop with BitPay merchants — which include premium brands and retailers, as well as popular services like UberEats and DoorDash — turn the tokens in for cash with a BitPay Card, swap them or simply hold them.
The volatile world of crypto investments is an adventure sport unto itself, with heart-thumping swings. Bitcoin and Ethereum, for instance, are energetically bouncing back after a major crash in June set off nerves. But the fascination with blockchain-based currency endures, and its die-hard fan base remain undeterred.
As for Gucci, the logical assumption is that it must be responding to its customers. After all, if BitPay’s Pair is right, then demand must be surging among luxury consumers. But this scenario is not a given, and the company declined a WWD request for comment, so it is not known how many of its customers actually use Bitcoin or Dogecoin.
Another, perhaps more likely possibility, is that its embrace of crypto allows the brand to meet future initiatives. The tech and fashion worlds seem obsessed with the notion of blending brick-and-mortar stores with the virtual world and digital products. If Gucci — which has been active in digital collectibles, avatar wearables and NFTs, as well as partnerships with virtual worlds like Roblox and The Sandbox — wanted to connect or even embed metaverse experiences and Web 3.0 transactions in its physical boutiques, preparing every store in a high-value market to accept crypto is a great place to start.