Economy & Regulation
Johannesburg Gets a New Crypto ATM, Ban Threatened Harare May Lose One
A new crypto teller machine is now operational in South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg. The ATM, which supports several digital coins, has been installed at a supermarket in the north-western part of the city’s metro area. It is the latest addition to a growing number of terminals offering automated crypto-fiat exchange services in the country and across the continent. Not all is rosy in the region, however. A crypto ban in neighboring Zimbabwe may deprive Harare of its bitcoin ATM. Nevertheless, crypto teller services are spreading in Africa.
Also read: Coinsource Installs 20 Bitcoin ATM Machines Around Washington DC
Multicurrency ATM Installed in a South African Supermarket
The Republic of South Africa, the continent’s economic powerhouse, and neighboring Zimbabwe, one of Africa’s most troubled nations, have at least one thing in common – the growing interest in cryptocurrencies, although under different circumstances. In recent years, both countries have been experiencing their own versions of crypto development. The process has led to improved access to the crypto ecosphere but now their paths may diverge again.
A South African outlet reported this week that the nation has got its “first” cryptocurrency ATM in its largest city. The teller machine has been installed at a store in Northwold, part of one of the biggest retail chains in the country – Spar. The automated terminal is a multicurrency device, according to Business Insider South Africa. Customers can buy bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH) and litecoin (LTC) with fiat cash. Unfortunately, it supports one-way transactions, which means only purchases of cryptocurrency are available.
Of course, “the first” is almost always a doubtful label. Unsurprisingly, right after the report came out, the breaking news information was corrected by other media. “While this is undoubtedly a forward-looking move, it is most certainly not the first cryptocurrency ATM to go live in South Africa,” Mybroadband wrote in a piece putting forward another example. According to member of the local crypto sector, multiple cryptocurrency ATMs are operating in South Africa. Jacques Serfontein, CEO of mining hardware supplier Bitmart, said his company has installed one last year at its store in Nelspruit, east of Johannesburg. It supports multiple cryptocurrencies, as well, including bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, dash, and zcash. Serfontein added he knew of several other crypto ATMs in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Midrand.
The new Johannesburg’s ATM may not be the first in the country after all, nevertheless, it’s arguably the first one in Northwold. The good news is that the residents of another South African neighborhood will be able to buy digital cash with a simple QR scan and a fiat payment. The teller machine has been installed by the Spar store manager, George Neophytou, who is a crypto enthusiast and entrepreneur. “I asked permission to use this location because I work here. What better place to set it up, so that if a user required help, I’d be on-site to help,” Neophytou said. His initiative was supported by Vendibit, a company developing software and hardware blockchain solutions, and his partner, Daniel Cappiello, director of the Danish firm Copencoin.
The future of cryptocurrencies in South Africa is still unclear. A “self-regulatory approach” has been mentioned as part of the solution for the country’s crypto sector, while the central bank is expected to formulate a comprehensive regulatory framework. In April, the South African Revenue Service announced it expected residents to declare crypto gains on their tax returns, although cryptocurrencies are not regarded as currencies for income tax purposes. Despite the uncertainty, cryptos have been gaining popularity both as investments and as means of payment. Last year, the country’s second largest supermarket chain, Pick n Pay, started testing bitcoin payments. It has been reported that drivers can pay tickets with cryptocurrency.
South Africa – Not the First and Only in Africa
The teller machine in Johannesburg is definitely not the first to offer automated crypto teller services on the continent, as well. Bitcoin has been gaining ground in SA’s neighbor Zimbabwe, where cryptocurrency exchange Golix has recently installed a BATM in its Harare office, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. Another local trading platform, Styx24, has announced plans to introduce a second machine in Gweru. Neither of the two companies, however, are licensed to provide these services. Besides, Zimbabwe’s central bank issued this month a circular effectively banning all crypto-related activities.
According to recent reports by local media, some of Golix’s bank accounts have been closed already and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has ordered the company to cease all crypto-exchange operations. If the trading platform shuts down, residents of Harare will probably lose the only bitcoin ATM in their city, which Golix has installed in its office.
Further north, an ATM in the Kenyan capital Nairobi supports four cryptocurrencies – bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC), and dogecoin (DOGE), according to data provided by Coinatmradar. Again, only crypto purchases are available. To the east, the tiny nation of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa offers a crypto teller machine operating 24/7. Customers can both buy and sell bitcoin (BTC) through the ATM located at the Appart Hotel Moulk in the capital city.
The Spanish Canary Islands, situated off the west coast of Africa, have at least three crypto teller machines. The one in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, capital of the largest island, offers support for two cryptocurrencies – BTC and LTC, but it’s a “buy only” terminal. The other two BATMs, in Costa de Adeje and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, can be used for both purchases and sales.
Undoubtedly, many more cryptocurrency ATMs operate in Africa and its neighboring regions. Naturally, it’s up to local crypto communities and crypto media to spread the news about them.
Do you think ATMs increase the availability and popularity of cryptocurrencies? Tells us in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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