The wine retailer banking on Bitcoin

A luxury online wine retailer has enjoyed a surge in demand after the value of Bitcoin increased by around 1,000%.

Lasserre & Papillon, a negociant based in Bordeaux, set up BTC Wine when Bitcoin enjoyed a remarkable bull run during 2017. The world’s most popular cryptocurrency increased from $900 to an all-time high of $19,783.21 that year.

Conditions naturally became ripe for a reversal, and the Bitcoin mania subsided as its value dropped below $7,000 by March 2018. Yet the BTC Wine team was undeterred, and it continued to fine tune its offering, confident that another bull run would soon take off.

BTC Wine sells high-end wines by the case to consumers around the world, and they pay using Bitcoin, Ethereum or Bitcoin Cash. Its current bestsellers are Cheval Blanc 2015, Canon La Ga elière 2009, Sassicaia 2014, Louis Roederer Cristal 2009, Latour 2005 and Pavie 2006.

Bitcoin was worth around $8,000 by March 2020, but it lost half of its value in a two-day plunge after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. Yet savvy investors sensed an opportunity after it crashed below the $4,000 mark. They started snapping up BTC at discounted prices, and then a Bitcoin halving took place in May.

For the uninitiated, a halving takes place once every four years, and it cuts the reward for mining new blocks in half. That reduces the number of new Bitcoins being generated by the network, making the existing supply more valuable. In theory, it should push prices up if demand remains strong.

Bitcoin took off again. By mid-December it had broken the previous all-time high set in 2017, and it went past the $40,000 mark for the first time in January 2021. Since then it has generally been hovering between $33,000 and $38,000. Many people who bought at the bottom began selling their Bitcoins and leading the high life at a time when most people are strapped for cash.

BTC Wine was therefore uniquely placed to thrive at a time when the majority of the French wine trade was in disarray.

“It’s going very well, because of the bull run,” says sales director Louis de Bonnecaze. “We have a new kind of customer. They have a lot of Bitcoin, and they want to spend it. Fine wine is a status symbol. They have bought the cars and the real estate, and then they go directly to the fine wine, so it’s a good market for us.

“The wine market is not doing very well, because we are experiencing Covid, Brexit, the tax in the US. For us, cryptocurrency payments have been a way to make some business in this very difficult period. The cryptosphere is a fascinating topic. For us it is above all a way to open our fine wine business to new tech wealthy customers.