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Malta Gets Its First Bitcoin ATM, Unveils Blockchain Plans

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:58 PM
Rebecca Campbell
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:58 PM

Malta has received its first bitcoin ATM as the Maltese government unveils plans to make it the first country to embrace the blockchain.

According to a report from the Malta Chamber , the bitcoin ATM is located in the town of Sliema where it is operated by Venture Trading. Services include the option of converting bitcoin to euro.

Introduced by local startup Ivaja, through a crowdfunding campaign, the startup is focusing on turning Malta into a ‘Bitcoin Island.’ However, according to a mission statement from their crowdfunding page, critics are claiming that Malta is ‘too far behind and not ready for bitcoin.’

It reads:

In fact there is huge potential that just waits to break out. We have a very active bitcoin community which is growing rapidly. There are many finance companies based on Malta. And also the iGaming industry is very interested in bitcoin. On top of that, it’s also a great chance for Malta’s decision makers to create the right environment for a flourishing economy.

The introduction of Malta’s first bitcoin ATM makes up 1,392 bitcoin ATMs located in 57 countries. Of those, the U.S. accounts for the most with a current total of 928 in over 35 states. Canada has 195 while the U.K. is placed third with 71, according to Coin ATM Radar.

Malta’s Blockchain Plans

The announcement of Malta’s first bitcoin ATM comes at a timely moment.

In May, the Maltese government had greenlighted a broad national strategy that would see the government embrace bitcoin and blockchain innovation to adopt the technology.

Plans have now started to be revealed by the government who is aiming to turn the island into one of the first countries that embraces the blockchain.

In an interview, Silvio Schembri, Malta Labour MP and responsible for the government’s new blockchain policy, said that there are two steps that need to be achieved: rolling out the blockchain in the public sector – land and health registries and the education sector – and creating a hub in the country for international companies to operate in.

He said:

We already have all the elements in place to embrace blockchain – a gaming sector and a robust gaming authority, a strong financial services sector, a reliable ICT infrastructure, an attractive taxation system, and a flexible and pro-business government.

Similar to how the gaming regulator, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), hands out licenses to gaming companies, a new authority will be set up that will regulate the blockchain industry, says Schembri, which could help to boost the Malta economy.

There are many of these companies out there who are itching to have a proper licence under which to operate, and we could be the first in Europe – if not the world – to provide them. Some oil companies are interested in shifting to blockchain – can you imagine how much money we can earn through taxation if they register in Malta?

Featured image from Shutterstock.