Bloomberg News

Robocoin Plans to Open Bitcoin ATM in Hong Kong, SCMP Reports

January 05, 2014

Robocoin Technologies, the company that opened the world’s first Bitcoin automated teller machine, plans to set up a second one in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported, citing Chief Executive Jordan Kelley.

An ATM for the virtual currency may be ready in the Chinese city by the end of this month, the newspaper said, citing Kelley in an interview. Robocoin will partner with local businessmen in Hong Kong, the newspaper said, without providing names.

Robocoin opened the first Bitcoin ATM in Vancouver in October and transactions exceeded C$1 million ($940,000) within the first month of opening, the SCMP said. At the Vancouver ATM, users can deposit cash in exchange for Bitcoins to be put into an online wallet, or withdraw cash from the machine in exchange for Bitcoins, according to Robocoin’s website.

The company chose Hong Kong because of enthusiasm in Asia for Bitcoin and the city’s strong links to Vancouver, the SCMP said. The Hong Kong government takes a “progressive approach” to Bitcoin technology, the newspaper quoted Kelley saying.

Bitcoin currently trades at about $908 on the Mt.Gox exchange, up from about $13 a year ago.

Bitcoin plunged against the yuan on Dec. 18 after China’s largest online market for the virtual currency stopped accepting Bitcoin deposits. Bitcoin fell as much as 49 percent to 2,011 yuan that day on BTC China.

BTC China

BTC China’s decision to stop taking deposits followed a move by China’s central bank to bar financial institutions and payment companies from handling Bitcoin transactions. Norway said last month it won’t recognize Bitcoin as legal tender and will impose a capital gains tax.

Bitcoin has since rebounded in China and trades at about 5,000 yuan today on BTC China.

Introduced five years ago by a programmer, or group of programmers, going under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoins exist as software and can potentially reduce banking transaction fees, making it an attractive option for trading via the Web or in stores. Bitcoins are being used to pay for everything from Gummi bears and digital cameras to Tesla electric cars on the Web, with more than 12 million in circulation.

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has said that Bitcoin businesses may be considered money transmitters for the purpose of complying with anti-money laundering laws.

Two calls to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s Senior Executives’ Office seeking comment on Bitcoin ATMs went unanswered outside normal business hours.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fox Hu in Hong Kong at fhu7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stanley James at sjames8@bloomberg.net


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