Kosovo's First Bitcoin ATM Sparks Central Bank Warning

A new bitcoin ATM installation has sparked debate in Kosovo, where regulators and entrepreneurs are splitting opinion on the launch.

Jul 24, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:45 a.m. UTC

A private business in Kosovo is gearing up to install its first bitcoin ATM amid warnings from the country's central bank.

According to regional news source Balkan Insight, the ATM is expected to be placed in the center of Pristina, the country's capital city. Operated by IT systems firm Albvision Ltd, the machine will support transactions in bitcoin, and soon, 10 other cryptocurrencies.

The firm also has bitcoin ATMs planned for cities in two other Balkan countries: Tirana in Albania, and Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia.

Still, the decision to launch the unit has attracted attention from the country's financial regulators, who stressed that cryptocurrencies are lacking consumer protections due to a lack of local regulation.

"We inform all potential virtual money users that in the Republic of Kosovo there is no institution guaranteeing the reimbursement of money that is lost," a statement from the Kosovo Central Bank noted.

Meanwhile, technology enthusiasts are coming to the defense.

In separate statements to the media, they're arguing a better way to mitigate threats is through educating the public and expediting the country's regulatory classification of the technology.

"The risk is the same; a user can lose money if they do not know how to use it. But this ATM will create possibilities for bitcoin to have more users. The biggest risk is not knowing how to use it," said Valmir Hazeri, chief operations officer of a local bitcoin company Bitsapphire.

Hazeri went on to call for local regulators to take steps to open the conversation about possible legal accommodations for the industry.

Kosovo image via Shutterstock

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