Malta’s First Bitcoin ATM Triggers Warning From Financial Services Authority

Malta's First Bitcoin ATM Triggers Warning From Financial Services Authority

Malta’s financial regulator has issued a warning aimed to deter cryptocurrency adoption following the installation of the Malta’s first bitcoin ATM. Although the statement asserts that bitcoin is not regulated or authorized, it does not make threats against those who choose to use cryptocurrency.

Also Read: Malta Entrepreneur Installs Nation’s First Cryptocurrency ATM

The Media Coverage Garnered by the Nation’s First Bitcoin ATM Has Prompted Malta’s Regulators to Issue a Warning to Prospective Cryptocurrency Users

Malta's First Bitcoin ATM Triggers Warning From Financial Services Authority

The installation of Malta’s first bitcoin ATM garnered significant local and international attention last week. Initially, a local cryptocurrency advocacy group had started a crowdfunding campaign to finance Malta’s first bitcoin ATM. Just days after the publication of stories detailing the campaign, a local Malta entrepreneur installed the nation’s first bitcoin ATM in Sliema.

The media coverage garnered by Malta’s first bitcoin ATM has prompted The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) to issue a warning to prospective cryptocurrency users. Times of Malta reports that The MFSA states that “unlike traditional money, acceptance of payment in virtual currency depends entirely on the voluntary consent of the recipient. Furthermore providers of services in relation to virtual currencies are currently neither regulated by law nor authorised by the MFSA.”

The MFSA’s Warnings Seem to Contradict the Pro-Cryptocurrency Rhetoric of Malta’s Prime Minister

The MFSA emphasizes that bitcoin and cryptocurrency are not legally regulated or recognized and that there are unique risks incurred through using cryptocurrency. “The MFSA therefore advises the public to exercise caution and be vigilant when dealing with virtual currencies and to ensure that they have understood the risks involved. If you buy virtual currencies, you should be fully aware and understand their specific characteristics. You should also exercise the same caution with your digital wallet as you would do with your conventional wallet. You should not keep large amounts of money in it and ensure you keep it safe and secure. You should also familiarise yourself with the ownership, reputability, transparency and public perception of the exchange platforms that you are considering using.”

Local cryptocurrency advocacy group, Bitmalta, has responded critically to the MFSA’s statements – accusing the MSFA of hampering the cryptocurrency. “We are extremely disappointed, to say the least, that whereas Malta’s Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat and Hon. Silvio Schembri, the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, are actively advocating the adoption of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies in Malta, the MFSA stubbornly choose to ignore developments in the area and quote long-since settled risks pertinent to cryptocurrencies… Cryptocurrencies are here to stay, whether you ban them or not, so it is advisable, even obvious, that measures should be taken to educate the public about them rather than scaremonger.”

The MFSA’s warnings come just months after Malta’s cabinet approved the first draft of a national strategy designed to foster bitcoin and blockchain education and innovation throughout the nation.

Do you think that regulators are increasingly softening their stance toward bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, or do you think the recent flood of ICOs has renewed financial authorities’ interest in crypto? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Austria, Canada, and US See Growth in Number of Bitcoin ATMs

Austria, Canada, and US See Growth in Number of Bitcoin ATMs

The number of bitcoin ATMs in service worldwide has continued to grow at an exponential rate. During June, the total number of bitcoin ATMs installed globally rose by over 7 per cent, with the highest growth being seen in the US, Canadian, and Austrian markets.

Also Read: Global Bitcoin ATM Proliferation Nearly Doubled During May

The Number of Registered Operational Bitcoin ATMs Rose by 91 During June

Austria, Canada, and US See Growth in Number of Bitcoin ATMs

June saw a continuation of the recent exponential proliferation of bitcoin ATMs worldwide. According to Coinatmradar, June saw the total number of bitcoin of active ATMs rise by 7.4 per cent (91 additional units), with the highest growth recorded in the United States, Canada, and Austria.

55 new bitcoin ATMs are reported to have been installed in the United States last month, comprising the largest national growth during June. Major contributors to the US growth include the world’s largest bitcoin ATM operator, Coinsource – who opened 9 new terminals targeting major US cities, Florida based operator, Bitstop, who adding 8 new locations, and Rockitcoin – who installed 5 new locations also.

Canada saw a 9.2 percent rise in the total number of reported cryptocurrency ATMs, with 15 new terminals being installed during June. Instacoin comprised 60 percent of the growth, opening 9 new bitcoin ATMs predominantly concentrated in the Toronto area.

The Data Would Suggest That Bitcoin ATM Operators Have Not Been Perturbed by the Possibility of a Hard Fork

Austria, Canada, and US See Growth in Number of Bitcoin ATMs

Significant growth was also seen in the total number of Austrian bitcoin ATMs in operation, with 12 new locations being installed, a rise of 46 percent. Austrian operator, Cointed, was nearly entirely responsible for the growth, opening 11 new terminals during June.

New bitcoin ATMs were installed in several emerging cryptocurrency markets. Norway saw the opening of its first reported cryptocurrency ATM, with the number of active terminals in Taiwan rising from 1 to 3, and the Dominican Republic’s ATMs rising from 3 to 5.

According to Coinatmradar, 29 bitcoin ATM terminals were shut down last month. The closures include the removal of the sole reported cryptocurrency-ATMs in both Jamaica and South Africa.

The data would suggest that bitcoin ATM operators have not been perturbed by the possibility of an impending hard fork, with the number of terminals worldwide continuing to show exponential growth across June.

Do you think that the number of new bitcoin ATMs being installed worldwide will begin to slow or continue to propel growth in cryptocurrency ATMs? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Kosovo Gets Bitcoin ATM Despite Central Bank’s Warning

Kosovo Gets First Bitcoin ATM Despite Central Bank's Warning

Soon after the central bank issued a warning about digital currencies including bitcoin, Kosovo sees several signs of rising bitcoin adoption, including its first Bitcoin ATM.

Also read: 13 Japanese Exchanges Agree to Suspend Bitcoin Service on August 1

First Bitcoin ATM Arrives in Kosovo

This week, local publications reported that the first Bitcoin ATM (BTM) has arrived in the Balkan country of Kosovo. The newspaper Telegrafi described:

This ATM is expected to provide some of the most commonly used virtual coins such as ether, dash, bitcoin, litecoin and doge. Kosovo joins the list of 57 countries of the world with a virtual coin ATM.

Kosovo Gets First Bitcoin ATM Despite Central Bank's WarningThe machine is operated by the Albvision Group, the publication reported, adding that it has been placed in the center of Pristina, the capital and largest city of Kosovo. Founded in 2000 in Kosovo with 54 employees currently, the group provides professional and strategic services, operating in sectors such as information and security systems, banking, energy, and telecommunications. According to Coinatmradar, the machine is located at “Qyteza Pejton, Str. Lorenc Antoni 31, Prishtina, Kosovo.”

This two-way Bitcoin ATM is the BATM Two model which has “the best price/performance ratio on the ATM market,” claims its producer General Bytes.

Only bitcoin will be available initially, but the company plans to add 10 other cryptocurrencies in the future, the publication detailed, adding that approximately 500 of these machines have been installed worldwide.

The Central Bank’s Warning

The Bitcoin ATM news came shortly after the Central Bank of Kosovo issued a statement warning citizens about the use of digital currencies in the country. The bank wrote last month:

The use of virtual money, such as bitcoin is not regulated and legally constitutes a danger that can result in financial loss. All potential users of virtual cash are informed that in Kosovo there is no institution that guarantees the reimbursement of money lost.

Some commercial banks, such as TEB Bank and Raiffeisen Bank, have also declared that they do not deal with digital currencies, according to the news portal Fol Drejt! Ilirjana Tahiraj of Raiffeisen Bank told the publication that the bank does not accept bitcoin transfers.

Bitcoin Interest Booming

Kosovo Gets First Bitcoin ATM Despite Central Bank's WarningMeanwhile, interest in bitcoin has risen sharply in Kosovo. Despite the central bank’s warning and commercial banks’ refusal to deal with the digital currency, Fol Drejt! wrote “the increasing trend of bitcoin interest among citizens has not stopped.”

In 2017, Kosovo imported equipment worth 800,000 euros which went towards the production or assembly of bitcoin mining devices, according to Kosovo Customs spokesperson Adriatik Stavileci. The news outlet then quoted her saying:

Customs treats these products as computer parts, except for graphics cards, which are much more advanced and more expensive than other cards, and for this reason we at all times are constantly tracking the import of these devices.

Dite Gashi, the CTO and co-founder of Bitsapphire, a local Bitcoin and blockchain consulting company, explained the biggest concerns for bitcoin. He said it has become difficult to find graphic cards in the Kosovo market, and that there is also a degree of uncertainty regarding bitcoin investments since its value changes from moment to moment.

“Regarding the legalization of digital currencies, he said that it is better for them to remain unregulated for some time,” the publication wrote.

What do you think about the bitcoin ecosystem in Kosovo? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Unconfirmed Transactions Queue and Bitcoin Fees Drop Considerably

transactions

For about a week and a half, the Bitcoin network’s transaction congestion and rising fee market has subsided. People are now reporting on how they are sending transactions for smaller fees, and some of them are having difficulty with wallets that are recommending fees that are much higher than needed.

Also read: The Decentralize Your Life Tour: An Interview With Derrick Broze 

Bitcoin’s Network Congestion Has Subsided For Now

The amount of unconfirmed transactions has been significantly lower than usual with the mempool (transaction queue) averaging roughly 7,000 to 15,000 unconfirmed transactions per day. This is a stark contrast to the 200,000+ transactions held up in the mempool just a few weeks prior. The transaction stress started diminishing around the first week of June and has continued to decline to the levels we are at today.

Unconfirmed Transactions and Bitcoin Fees Drop Considerably
Bitcoiners are paying lower fees throughout June and July 2017.

Since the number of unconfirmed transactions has dropped and there has been more room for bitcoin transactions  fees have also dropped. Less than two years ago anyone could send some bitcoin for a fee of roughly $0.02 worth of BTC, but this past May fees reached an average median of $5 per transaction. However, fees now have abated to levels under a dollar and some as low as $0.25 according to a few bitcoin proponents.

Difficult to Verify Theories

Of course, there are multiple theories detailing how the number of unconfirmed transactions has waned and why the fee market is significantly lower than a few weeks prior. Some believe the issue stemmed from a “spam attack” where an individual or group sends a large amount of low fee transactions relentlessly. However, people believe the cost to keep this attack going is considerable and some proponents believe this theory is merely a conspiracy.

Unconfirmed Transactions and Bitcoin Fees Drop Considerably
Mempool transaction count starts dropping around the first week of June.

Another reason people believe transactions and fees are lower is due to less bitcoin activity. For instance, the price of bitcoin has dropped a few times after reaching all-time highs, and people are not transacting as much. Alongside this, trade volume has weakened as well to less than $1 billion compared to $2 billion USD worth of BTC trades per day. Some have also attributed the prior congestion and higher fees towards the use of darknet mixers. Another theory is that companies like Genesis mining, and other bitcoin businesses are moving/batching more transactions “off-chain” instead of settling as often as previously done. Many of these theories are difficult to verify.

Unconfirmed Transactions and Bitcoin Fees Drop Considerably
10,777 Unconfirmed transactions at press time. 7-5-17 12:30 pm EDT.

Wallets and Fee Charts Having a Hard Time Adjusting

Since the fee market and unconfirmed transaction count has lowered, many people have been having issues with wallets that don’t allow custom fees. Some wallets offer three different settings in order for senders to prioritize their transactions, while others offer custom settings. For instance, this morning Breadwallet recommended that a fee of $1.78 for a typical transaction size of 226 bytes. Additionally going over to 21 Inc’s fee converter website, the tool details the “fastest and cheapest transaction fee is currently 300 satoshis/byte” for a 226-byte transaction which equals $1.73 at press time. Many wallets and fee charts have higher than needed fee recommendations for the time being.

Unconfirmed Transactions and Bitcoin Fees Drop Considerably
Trezor’s custom fee settings. There are other wallets that offer this feature as well.
Unconfirmed Transactions and Bitcoin Fees Drop Considerably
If you send a lower fee than recommended you may get a warning like this Bitpay paid invoice.

There are other wallets that offer custom fees where users can manually lower the setting to under 300 satoshis/byte which will likely confirm just as fast as the higher recommended fee settings. Most wallets utilize a dynamic fee setting which suggests only three choices and are usually based off tools like 21 Inc’s inaccurate chart. However, there are a few wallets that offer custom fees including Blockchain.info, Trezor, Armory, Green Address, Airbitz and more.

During these times when congestion is low, users can check the mempool to see if there is a minimal amount of unconfirmed transactions and possibly get away with paying a lower fee. Bitcoin users can opt to pay the economy fee rate within their wallet settings or may even want to switch to wallets that offer customized fee settings. The choice is entirely up to the user, but for now, the Bitcoin network’s congestion is diminished and fees are lower. 

What do you think about the number of unconfirmed transactions dropping and the fees being lower? Have you experienced paying cheaper fees for transactions? Let us know about it in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock, Bitpay, Trezor, and Blockchain.info. 


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