Singapore bitcoin ATM producer Tembusu announced today it has closed its seed funding round and raised over S$300,000 (US$236,600), just one and a half weeks after launching its first machine and after the company itself was valued at S$5.1m (US$4.02m).
Company spokesman Jarrod Luo said the extra capital would form the bulk of the working capital the startup requires to “fulfill its outstanding machine orders in a timely fashion”, including stockpiling raw materials and expanding its team.
Tembusu was the first company to open a bitcoin ATM in Singapore, and it is also the first to design and manufacture its machines there. It is also Asia’s first home-grown bitcoin ATM producer, having just beaten South Korea’s Coinplug to launch by a couple of days.
At press time Singapore has six active bitcoin ATMs, with several companies racing to increase that number. Another Singapore company, Bitcoin Exchange, launched a Lamassu ATM in a busy Singapore shopping mall right after Tembusu’s release.
The Tembusu machines feature advanced physical Know Your Customer (KYC) and anti-theft measures such as ID and thumbprint scanning, and the company says it offers a variety of additional anti-money laundering (AML) features in its machines depending on the jurisdiction where each is located.
The ATMs are one-way only, meaning customers may only exchange cash for bitcoins, but apparently can be adapted to dispense cash. They also have the capacity to dispense other cryptocurrencies if the demand is there.
The company says customizability and flexibility are two of its key selling points, allowing machines to be shipped anywhere in the world.
Tembusu also offers flexibility with its pricing and financing options, saying it is even possible, under certain conditions, to deploy a machine for no down payment at all.
Regulation and tax
Bitcoin startups and bitcoin ATMs have been allowed to flourish in Singapore thanks to the city-state government’s liberal attitude towards cryptocurrency so far. An announcement on 21st February by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said bitcoins are not viewed as legal tender by his ministry or regulators the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
He also warned this hands-off approach extended to consumer protection, of which there is none, and that the government would continue to investigate any need for regulation.
MAS regards bitcoin ATMs as ‘vending machines‘ as long as they are cash-to-bitcoin only.
Singapore’s Tax Authority, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, has also issued its own guidelines on how it intends to tax bitcoin business and transactions, basically saying it regards cryptocurrencies not as money but as goods for sale like any other. ‘Sales’ of bitcoin and bitcoin transactions for other goods and services will be subject to GST, and Singapore does not have a capital gains tax for any investment class.
Tembusu Terminals Pte Ltd. is a joint-venture between cryptocurrency consultancy firm Estates General and software/hardware development firm Red Steed Studios, who together are looking for technological solutions to known bitcoin challenges, and new ways to introduce cryptocurrency use to the general public.
Singapore cash image via Shutterstock