Installation of first bitcoin ATM in Slovakia meets with success
Bratislava, Dec 27 (ČTK) — The installation of the first ATM machine dispensing digital currency bitcoin in the Slovak capital of Bratislava about one month ago has met with great interest among Slovaks, although the possibility to pay with the currency is still very limited in the country.
The machine, located in the center of Bratislava, has already performed over 200 transactions since it has been installed.
Slovak businessman Marián Jančuška who had installed the machine said that he had reckoned with a lower volume of transactions and that he was surprised by the demand for bitcoin.
The Slovak capital is one of the first 15 localities in the world where a bitcoin ATM has been installed and launched into operation.
“I want to promote bitcoin. It is my major interest, bigger than the profit from transactions,” Jančuška told ČTK.
Jančuška, who runs an IT consultancy business, has invested $5,000 (more than 100,000 Kč) in the purchase of the machine.
The ATM does not differ much from a digital parking machine. It communicates with users in Slovak and through the so-called QR codes that can be scanned with a smartphone, for example.
The system converts inserted euro banknotes into bitcoins and transfers the relevant amount to the buyer’s digital account.
The machine uses the latest bitcoin exchange rate. Its owner charges a fee amounting to 1 percent of the value of a transaction.
Jančuška is considering installation of another bitcoin ATM in Košice, eastern Slovakia, in spring next year.
However, there are only few places where people can spend bitcoins in Slovakia.
The virtual currency is accepted by fast food chain Subway in Bratislava, by a clothing producer and by a company offering Internet services, for example.
Jančuška said the spreading of bitcoins among people should help convince companies to accept this currency.
“The bitcoin is a people’s currency. I have become convinced that it is a breakthrough thing from which the broad public will benefit,” Jančuška noted.
Bitcoins should, among other things, prevent repetition of cases when people lost a large part of their savings during currency reforms in the past, he said.
Bitcoin’s exchange rate has been showing big swings. The value of the virtual currency fell sharply in the middle of December when China’s main exchange for bitcoin trading announced it was no longer accepting deposits in the Chinese yuan.
Consumers have been warned against the use of unregulated virtual currencies by the European Banking Authority (EBA).
But Jančuška also said there are risks to bitcoin use.
“People should know that bitcoin is not regulated and that nobody provides a guarantee for deposits. The currency offers a great deal of freedom, but its users must be watchful,” Jančuška said.
Bitcoin was created by an anonymous developer nicknamed Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009.
The currency is designed in such a way so as nobody — neither governments nor central banks — can have any influence over it.