It’s an old hat: What the Bitcoin adaptation lacks are reliable on-ramps. Opportunities to make Bitcoin part of daily life with the help of investments. For what, if not the participation in the Bitcoin course causes investors to deal with the promises of digital gold? What the ecosystem currently needs more than anything else is the means to get BTC as easily as possible. One much-discussed possibility for this is Bitcoin ATMs.
Why Germany still has the disadvantage and services like Athena Bitcoin increasingly focus on South America.
Where are all the Bitcoin ATMs?
You can think of Bitcoin ATMs as you would a traditional ATM, with the crucial difference of trading cash against Satoshis – and vice versa. In the US, the machines have already reached a certain significance. In the metropolitan area of Chicago alone, according to data from Coin ATM Radar, there are a total of 132 pieces. Distributed across the country, Americans find over 3,000 such BTC on-ramps.
In Germany, however, there are just 49 pieces. Wherein research by BTC-ECHO revealed that the ATM in the Damla Market in Berlin-Charlottenburg is not functional. Why is this backwardness in this country?
Part of the problem is likely to be a lack of regulatory clarity regarding crypto assets and Bitcoin machines in Germany. In a judgment of the court of appeal, this gray area reveals itself more clearly than ever: In October 2018, the court ruled that BaFin was not authorized to prohibit investors from trading Bitcoin & Co. via ATMs. His opinion was based on the court that Bitcoin is not a financial instrument in the sense of the Banking Act and the authority is therefore not responsible for the supervision at all.
One consequence of the ruling was the legal revaluation of crypto assets. According to the content of a bill of the Federal Government, these are considered so-called crypto values from the coming year . The aim was to legally anchor the regulatory capacity of BaFin.
BaFin becomes an ATM supervisor
As of next year, BaFin will receive exactly the competence that it was previously certain. In other words: From 2020, BaFin will also regulate bitcoin machines in accordance with the new Anti-Money Laundering Act.
That does not necessarily have to be negative. Until now, setting up BTC-ATMs was not illegal per se. However, the unclear regulatory status has not exactly promoted the growth of the industry in this country. It is conceivable, for example, that crypto-entrepreneurs with a banking license will agree with BaFin and then roll out vending machines on a large scale across the country.
Different models are conceivable. For example, many of the ATM operators are franchised companies. That is, the manufacturer rents or sells the equipment to franchisees, who in return receive part of the fees. Experience has shown that the fees for Bitcoin machines are higher than for Exchanges; ATMs are therefore a potentially attractive source of income for kiosk or gas station owners.
Bitcoin in South America more popular than ever
How important ATMs are as an adaptation tool is also discussed in the latest episode of “What Bitcoin Did Podcast” by Peter McCormack. This week, Gil Valentine and Eric Gravengaard hosted co-founders of Athena Bitcoin, one of the largest Bitcoin ATM operators in the US.
While growing popularity is also in the United States, the true use case reveals itself, especially in South American countries with dysfunctional currencies.
“The Argentine people have had to watch their currency devaluate several times over the last few decades,” says Valentines.
“The Argentine peso,” then McCormack, “has lost 40 percent of its value against the US dollar this year alone. You just had to grow up in Argentina to see the value of Bitcoin. ”
That may be so. But the reality is different. As the Argentine trader Alex Krüger writes on Twitter, the bitcoin spread is not as high as the narrative suggests. Accordingly, the majority of the population deviates more on the US dollar than Bitcoin:
Contrary to popular belief, bitcoin awareness in Argentina is extremely low (outside of the tech industry, where it is high), and the Argentine bitcoin market is accordingly small.
Argentina is a quasi-dollarized economy; Argentines are obsessed with and hedge with the dollar.
— Alex Krüger (@krugermacro) August 13, 2019
Contrary to popular belief, bitcoin penetration in Argentina is extremely low. The Argentinean Bitcoin market is accordingly small. Argentina is a quasi-dollar market […].
Bitcoin as a hard money alternative?
Nevertheless, the podcaster cuts an exciting point: working fiat currencies like the US dollar or the euro are not the rule, but the exception. A large part of the world’s population lives in states where citizens are confronted daily with creeping or galloping devaluation of their own currency – and with it their savings. Converted into the Argentine peso reached Bitcoin as a result of these days already its all-time high.
In these states, Bitcoin could increasingly serve as a lifeline – even if the adaptation is slower than some people believe. As the BTC exchange volume is extremely low in countries such as Argentina, Bitcoin ATMs are likely to play an increasingly important role in the future.
So how could it be a coincidence that one of the most profitable Athena ATMs is in Cúcuta, Colombia? The place is located directly on the Venezuelan border.
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