Soon after the central bank issued a warning about digital currencies including bitcoin, Kosovo sees several signs of rising bitcoin adoption, including its first Bitcoin ATM.
First Bitcoin ATM Arrives in Kosovo
This week, local publications reported that the first Bitcoin ATM (BTM) has arrived in the Balkan country of Kosovo. The newspaper Telegrafi described:
This ATM is expected to provide some of the most commonly used virtual coins such as ether, dash, bitcoin, litecoin and doge. Kosovo joins the list of 57 countries of the world with a virtual coin ATM.
The machine is operated by the Albvision Group, the publication reported, adding that it has been placed in the center of Pristina, the capital and largest city of Kosovo. Founded in 2000 in Kosovo with 54 employees currently, the group provides professional and strategic services, operating in sectors such as information and security systems, banking, energy, and telecommunications. According to Coinatmradar, the machine is located at “Qyteza Pejton, Str. Lorenc Antoni 31, Prishtina, Kosovo.”
Only bitcoin will be available initially, but the company plans to add 10 other cryptocurrencies in the future, the publication detailed, adding that approximately 500 of these machines have been installed worldwide.
The Central Bank’s Warning
The Bitcoin ATM news came shortly after the Central Bank of Kosovo issued a statement warning citizens about the use of digital currencies in the country. The bank wrote last month:
The use of virtual money, such as bitcoin is not regulated and legally constitutes a danger that can result in financial loss. All potential users of virtual cash are informed that in Kosovo there is no institution that guarantees the reimbursement of money lost.
Some commercial banks, such as TEB Bank and Raiffeisen Bank, have also declared that they do not deal with digital currencies, according to the news portal Fol Drejt! Ilirjana Tahiraj of Raiffeisen Bank told the publication that the bank does not accept bitcoin transfers.
Bitcoin Interest Booming
Meanwhile, interest in bitcoin has risen sharply in Kosovo. Despite the central bank’s warning and commercial banks’ refusal to deal with the digital currency, Fol Drejt! wrote “the increasing trend of bitcoin interest among citizens has not stopped.”
In 2017, Kosovo imported equipment worth 800,000 euros which went towards the production or assembly of bitcoin mining devices, according to Kosovo Customs spokesperson Adriatik Stavileci. The news outlet then quoted her saying:
Customs treats these products as computer parts, except for graphics cards, which are much more advanced and more expensive than other cards, and for this reason we at all times are constantly tracking the import of these devices.
Dite Gashi, the CTO and co-founder of Bitsapphire, a local Bitcoin and blockchain consulting company, explained the biggest concerns for bitcoin. He said it has become difficult to find graphic cards in the Kosovo market, and that there is also a degree of uncertainty regarding bitcoin investments since its value changes from moment to moment.
“Regarding the legalization of digital currencies, he said that it is better for them to remain unregulated for some time,” the publication wrote.
What do you think about the bitcoin ecosystem in Kosovo? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Albvision
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