HONG KONG - Hong Kong looks set to become the second city in the world after Vancouver, Canada, to have a bitcoin automated teller machine (ATM) that allows customers to buy bitcoins with local currency as well as withdraw cash by selling bitcoins.
A report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted Robocoin chief executive (CEO) Jordan Kelley saying Hong Kong had beaten off competition from Singapore and New York.
But there is also a global race between rival bitcoin ATM makers to cash in on the rising popularity of the digital currency.
The world's first two-way bitcoin ATM was opened in a Vancouver coffee shop last October and it traded C$100,000 (S$119,000) of the cybercurrency in its first week, said the Vancouver Sun newspaper.
Canada's CTV news said that the ATM is operated by Vancouver-based Bitcoiniacs and Nevada-based Robocoin. Customers have their palms scanned before they may exchange up to C$3,000 worth of bitcoins per day.
Robocoin's machine costs US$20,000 (S$25,000), or four to five times as much as a bitcoin ATM made by a rival, British Virgin Islands-based Lamassu. However, Lamassu's compact ATM cannot provide cash in exchange for bitcoins, only the other way around.
Lamassu announced a week ago it had sold 120 machines. Reuters quoted Mr Zach Harvey, Lamassu's CEO, as saying: "We will be shipping to 25 different countries, ranging from Canada to Kyrgyzstan, and we've translated our user interface into more than a dozen languages, including Russian, Chinese and Friulian."
Mr Kelley told SCMP it was vital to establish a presence in Asia as there is so much enthusiasm for the cybercurrency in the region. But he would not say where Hong Kong's first bitcoin ATM would be as several locations are being considered.
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