BTC China has installed the country’s first bitcoin ATM in its number one city with the launch of a new online app which allows users to buy and sell the virtual currency on their phones.
The ATM itself is located at a mall coffee shop in Shanghai’s Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park. Users can purchase bitcoins directly from the machine in exchange for yuan, but cannot withdraw cash, according to Reuters:
The machine was lightly used during a visit by Reuters, with just one client appearing to use it, but cafe manager Cheng Mengyao said she had seen a steady stream of customers use the machine for small transactions since it was installed.
The web app essentially allows transactions on a direct peer-to-peer basis, as opposed to selling them on an open exchange. This also avoids using the banking network or a public online exchange, but means transactions are between individuals and liquidity is limited to how much cash they have.
Unlike conventional currency, bitcoin is not backed by any central bank by physical assets, and can be exchanged for goods, services and cash via file transfer. The anonymity of bitcoin’s transactions has led to a host of problems including illicit trading.
The value of the currency decreased sharply at the end of last year when the Chinese central bank called for branches to stop trading in the currency. Prices on BTC China, the country’s biggest trading platform, fell by more than a third.
BTC China’s chief executive Bobby Lee spoke to Reuters by telephone and said his exchange is still operating. “News reports said it would be shut down by April 15. It’s April 16 and nothing has happened,” he said. He added that his transaction levels were ‘still healthy’.
[Image via ahcaijing.com]