Cryptocurrency ATMs in Argentina take the peso
Argentina could get up to 30 Bitcoin ATMs as fintech firms seek to profit from the tumble in the peso’s value.
Athena Bitcoin, a US company that specialises in cryptocurrency ATMs, launched Argentina’s first Bitcoin ATM last month in a Buenos Aires shopping mall, a company spokesperson tells Reuters.
Another US firm, Odyssey Group, said of the 150 ATMs it aims to install by the end of the year in Argentina, 80% of those will be Bitcoin-operational within the first months of 2019.
“Today, the cryptocurrency ATMs in the world are growing exponentially. In Argentina, there were no commercial ATMs and the idea was to be the first to capture the market,” says Dante Galeazzi, Argentina operations manager for Athena Bitcoin.
Athena Bitcoin has 12 ATMs in Colombia, and the Argentine financial crisis, with inflation expected to exceed 40% by the end of the year, means fintechs want to profit from others’ misfortune.
The peso has lost more than 50% of its value against the dollar so far in 2018.
“With currency devaluations, we have seen a spike in Bitcoin transactions. We see that as a safeguard to (the peso’s) value, as well as an opportunity to invest in the market,” Galeazzi explains, adding that the machines will initially support only Bitcoin, but will eventually include other cryptocurrencies like litecoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash.
Athena Bitcoin machines let customers buy and sell digital currencies. Odyssey Group ATMs will be able to complete traditional bank transactions including depositing and withdrawing cash and transferring money between accounts.
Octagon, a company owned by Odyssey Group that will process the ATM transactions in Argentina, hopes to have installed about 1,600 Bitcoin-enabled ATMs for Odyssey in the country a year from now, the company’s general manager Begona Perez De Solay tells Reuters.
Both Athena Bitcoin and Odyssey group have ambitions to expand in other Latin American countries.
Galeazzi adds that Athena Bitcoin is eying Chile, Brazil and Mexico as other potential markets, while Odyssey Group states that it is examining other potential locations across the region.