On 3/25/14, a Lamassu Bitcoin ATM was revealed in Taipei, Taiwan at the Gelateria Cosi o Cosi ice cream shop. The Gelateria is the first official place to spend Bitcoins in Taiwan and it is fitting that Taiwan’s first Bitcoin ATM should end up there. The presence of this Bitcoin ATM flies in the face of Taiwanese government official Tseng Ming-Chung, who earlier this year said:
…it is impossible for a bitcoin ATM to come to or appear in Taiwan.”
Taiwanese Government Opposition To Bitcoin ATMs
At the beginning of 2014, Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Committee’s (FSC) Chairman Tseng Ming-Chung issued a joint statement with the Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan’s Central Bank). This statement contained all the standard warnings about risk and personal responsibility that Bitcoiners have come to expect from their governments.
In early January, Robocoin announced intentions to launch bi-directional Robocoin Bitcoin ATMs in East Asian countries/localities such as Taiwan/Hong Kong. In response, Chairman Tseng took to mainstream media to clarify that the FSC was saying “NO” to Bitcoin ATMs on Taiwanese soil. His specific (translated) words were this:
“Given bitcoin’s non-currency status, no bank deposits should made in it, and banks are not allowed to receive or provide (bitcoins). To install bitcoin ATMs would require approval from FSC, which will not be given. So it is impossible for a bitcoin ATM to come to or appear in Taiwan.”
The FSC was abundantly clear about the fate of Taiwanese bi-directional Bitcoin ATMs in the near future. Despite the Taiwanese government’s opposition, brave Taiwanese Bitcoiners have set up this uni-directional Bitcoin ATM in Taipei, Taiwan in blatant disregard for the government’s words. The Lamassu Bitcoin ATM does not require a bank account, or a palm vein scan, and could conceivably avoid the FSC’s eye for quite some time. Given the limited functionality of the Lamassu “Bitcoin ATM,” I imagine that its owners regard the machine, legally, as more of a Bitcoin vending machine than a Bitcoin ATM.
Bitcoin In Taiwan
Besides the one Gelateria for Bitcoiners to spend their Bitcoin at, Taiwan is also home to a few fledgling Bitcoin projects. The Taiwanese Bitcoin movement has been largely overshadowed in the world’s eye by activities from mainland China. However, Taiwan has two functioning Bitcoin exchanges: bitage.com.tw and bitquick.tw. In addition, Taiwan’s Wayi International Digital Entertainment Co. last year announced plans to set up a legal Taiwanese Bitcoin exchange and to accept Bitcoin for their many wares.
I eagerly await FSC comment on this Lamassu Bitcoin ATM that has found its way on Taiwanese soil. I’m not holding my breath though, Taiwan is currently embroiled in something of a political upheaval. Here’s hoping that protesters in Taipei will find their way to Gelateria Cosi o Cosi for some Bitcoin and ice cream.
Last modified: April 2, 2014 13:04 UTC