Malta's first-ever Bitcoin ATM has been installed in Sliema, where it is operated by Venture Trading, where it offers, among other services, the option of converting Bitcoin to euro.
Bitcoin, which was introduced in 2009, is digital money used for secure and instant transfer of value anywhere in the world. It can be traded for dollars, euros, yen, and other currencies in real time 24 hours a day.
The value of a bitcoin is not tied or pegged to the value of any other currency. Similar to stocks or property, bitcoin’s value is determined by buying and selling in the open market. A bitcoin’s price changes in real time based on the number of people who want to buy or sell it at a given moment.
The introduction of the ATM is timely - cabinet has already approved a blockchain strategy and gaming operators are pushing for regulators to give cryptocurrencies the green light. The introduction of ATMs will make buying and withdrawing the digital currency easier for the casual user.
Meanwhile, a local start-up called Ivaja is focused on making Malta a ‘Bitcoin island’, by launching the first Bitcoin ATM through a crowdfunding campaign, although it appears to have been beaten to the punch.
“Many people are saying that Malta is too far behind and not ready for Bitcoin. But we believe the opposite is true. In fact there is huge potential that just waits to break out. We have a very active bitcoin community which is growing rapidly. There are many finance companies based on Malta. And also the iGaming industry is very interested in Bitcoin. On top of that, it’s also a great chance for Malta's decision makers to create the right environment for a flourishing economy,” Ivaja’s mission statement on the crowd-funding page reads.
There are currently 1,385 registered cryptocurrency ATMs worldwide, with 800 Bitcoin ATMs across the United States alone. Earlier this year, Japan recognised the currency as a legal means of payment.