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Paying With Bitcoin in Switzerland: Questions and Answers

January 24, 2024 - Daniel Dreier

Find out how and where you can use bitcoin to pay in Switzerland in this moneyland.ch guide.

Bitcoin may primarily be used as a speculative investment, but it was originally meant to be used as an alternative currency. In this guide, moneyland.ch answers the most important questions about using bitcoin to pay for goods and services in Switzerland.

How do I pay with bitcoin?

In order to use bitcoin to pay, you need to have a bitcoin wallet that contains the bitcoin you want to spend. Additionally, the store or other merchant that you want to buy from must either have a bitcoin wallet, or use a merchant acquirer that enables them to accept bitcoin payments.

In order to make a payment, you have to have to transfer the right amount of bitcoin from your wallet to a bitcoin wallet belonging to the merchant or their acquirer. That is done using the public address of their bitcoin wallet.

To simplify the whole process of bitcoin payments, bitcoin wallet apps and merchant acquirers use QR codes. You simply scan the QR code on the store’s payment terminal or online checkout with the bitcoin wallet app on your phone and then authorize the payment, much as you would when making using mobile payment services like Twint.

Where can I pay with bitcoin in Switzerland?

Worldline, Switzerland’s biggest merchant acquirer, collaborates with bitcoin service provider Bitcoin Suisse to give merchants the option of accepting bitcoin at their payment terminals and online stores.

That means you can pay at many Swiss merchants using your personal bitcoin wallet on your phone, much as you would with Twint. However, merchants that use Worldline have to specifically add this payment method. Not every merchant that uses Worldline automatically accepts payments in bitcoin.

Paying with bitcoin at Worldline terminals is approximately as secure as using any other cashless payment method. Refunds are paid out in Swiss francs.

Some Swiss stores also accept bitcoin payments directly. In this case, the payment is transferred directly from your bitcoin wallet to the merchant’s wallet, instead of being processed by a merchant acquirer.

You can find many of the Swiss merchants that accept bitcoin payments on Coinmap and Bitcoinwide.

Can I use bitcoin to pay my bills?

Some Swiss bitcoin service providers – including Bity and Mt Pelerin – offer online bill payment services that enable you to pay any Swiss QR-Bill using bitcoin.

Since 2021, the canton of Zug has accepted bitcoin for the payment of tax bills. The canton of Ticino also accepts bitcoin payments for certain services. Swiss health insurance provider Atupri gives you the option of paying your bills using bitcoin.

Can I use bitcoin to make peer to peer payments to other people?

You can easily send bitcoin to another person by making a transfer from your personal bitcoin wallet to their personal wallet.

Be aware though, that there is no way to reverse a bitcoin transfer if. That can be a problem if, for example, you transfer the wrong amount, or if you accidentally send bitcoin to the wrong bitcoin address). For that reason, it is imperative that you only make bitcoin transfers to people who you trust.

What costs apply to making bitcoin payments?

  • Bitcoin network fees

Every time you transfer bitcoin from one wallet to another, you have to pay a fee to the bitcoin network. This is called the mining fee, and it is paid to the operator of the computer that processes the bitcoin transaction. The mining fee is charged in bitcoin.

The size of the mining fee varies depending on the overall demand for bitcoin transfers at the time that you make the transfer. It also depends on which bitcoin wallet you use. Mining fees are charged in bitcoin, so the higher the price of bitcoin in Swiss francs is, the more expensive the network fees will be in Swiss francs. Typically, the network fee is equivalent to between 50 centimes and 5 francs per transaction, but it can be lower or much higher than that.

Because of the high transfer fees, paying in bitcoin only makes sense if you already have bitcoin, and the cost of changing it into Swiss francs would be higher than the cost of mining fees for paying directly in bitcoin.

  • Possible markups from merchants

Some Swiss merchants charge a markup when you pay with bitcoin. As with markups for credit card payments, the merchant’s markup comes on top of the price tag for the product or service you are buying.

  • Markups on the bitcoin exchange rate

The Swiss merchants and government offices that accept bitcoin calculate their prices or bills in Swiss francs. If they use an unfavorable exchange rate they use when converting bitcoin to francs, you can end up paying a high markup over the bitcoin spot price. This currency exchange rate markup is an additional, hidden fee.

Depending on the circumstances, it can be beneficial to compare the merchant’s exchange rate to the bitcoin spot price before you pay. If the merchant uses a very unfavorable exchange rate, then it makes more sense to pay in Swiss francs.

Do I need an Internet connection to pay with bitcoin?

An Internet connection is generally required. When you pay with bitcoin, the bitcoin is transferred from your wallet to the wallet of the merchant or their acquirer on the Internet. You must have a phone with a data connection and a bitcoin wallet app in order to pay with bitcoin.

Offline bitcoin payments are theoretically possible. However, off-chain transactions are still in their fledgling stage and are not accepted by any major Swiss merchants.

More on this topic:
How to buy bitcoin in Switzerland
Payment methods for online shopping in Switzerland compared
The pros and cons of different payment methods explained
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Editor Daniel Dreier
Daniel Dreier is editor and personal finance expert at moneyland.ch.
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