A Singapore company is planning to install the island's first bitcoin ATM by April.
The firm, Bitcoin Exchange, has purchased a Lamassu unit that it expects will arrive mid-March. It plans to install more ATMs if the first unit is well received. Zann Kwan, one of the company's directors, said:
“The good thing is that the Singapore government has left bitcoin alone. It's treated like silver or gold, and if you want to [deal in it] it's at your own risk. The ATM will create a lot more interest in bitcoin.”
According to Kwan, the machine’s location hasn’t been decided just yet. The company is looking for a location inside one of Singapore’s many shopping malls.
Kwan made it clear that the ATM would not charge a fee for each transaction, supplying bitcoin at a premium to market rates instead. She said the company had not decided what exchange it would take its rates from yet.
The Singapore bitcoin economy has been growing, although it’s still mainly driven by early adopters, she added:
“There are a few bars that are accepting bitcoins now, and people are talking about it. But you need a few people to start the ball rolling, then the momentum will pick up.”
One of the republic’s cryptocurrency-accepting bars is Bartini Kitchen. The cocktail bar and restaurant, located in the heart of the city's financial district, began accepting bitcoin payments at the end of November.
Several customers have paid for their food and drinks from Bartini Kitchen's modern European menu in bitcoin since then, according to bartender Amir. He said:
“There’ve been just a few transactions, not many of our customers know about bitcoin. But overall, it’s been a positive response.”
Bartini Kitchen draws a cosmopolitan after-work crowd from the office towers that dominate the skyline in this part of town. The restaurant is part of a group of seven other bars and eateries, including a Japanese restaurant called Mariko's that also takes bitcoin.
According to Amir, the group's management are keen bitcoin supporters. Bartini’s mixologists are led by Barnaby Murdoch, a British expat who mixed drinks at London nightspots Kitts, Rudy’s Revenge and Rubicon.
Singapore’s tax authority issued guidelines on how to tax bitcoin back in December, becoming one of the world’s first regulatory institutions to do so. The republic is also the base of digital currency startups, like payment processor GoCoin and Ripple Singapore, a bullion exchange using the Ripple network.
Featured image via Philippe Put / Flickr