Singapore set to get its first bitcoin ATM

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans will be able to swop their physical dollars for virtual bitcoin when the first automated teller machine for the cryptocurrency lands here next month.

Home-grown company Bitcoin Exchange, which facilitates the trading of bitcoin, has bought a bitcoin machine from British Virgin Islands-based manufacturer Lamassu. It is looking for a suitable location for the ATM.

Speaking to MyPaper, Bitcoin Exchange director Zann Kwan, 37, said that she decided to bring in a bitcoin ATM for one reason: To make the currency easily accessible.

Currently, to buy bitcoin in Singapore, consumers need to wire money to an overseas exchange, and wait for at least one day, depending on wire-transfer processing times, for the transaction to be completed. Fees are also involved.

"This is not cheap and defeats the concept of bitcoin," Ms Kwan said, adding that the digital currency works largely because it is easy to use, and such transactions usually come with zero or extremely small processing fees.

"A bitcoin vending machine makes it very easy and safe to buy bitcoin, and avoids such additional costs and other risks."

Currently, if you buy bitcoin off someone on the Internet, there is a risk that the seller may default on the transaction, she explained.

To convert cash into bitcoin on the ATM, users have to scan a QR code from an easily downloadable bitcoin wallet on their smartphones. They can then feed bills into the machine, which will credit the digital equivalent into their bitcoin wallets. The US$5,000 (S$6,380) ATM, according to Lamassu's website, can convert "fiat to bitcoin in 15 seconds".

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