Greece is the target of a ton of media attention these days. The country’s financial crisis is in full effect, with banks only allowing daily withdrawals of 50-60 EUR and offices remaining closed for over two weeks now. Many Bitcoin enthusiasts see this as the perfect opportunity to focus their attention on Greece, and that is what Bitchain has done as well.
Athen’s First Two-way Bitcoin ATM
Finding a working bank ATM in Greece is not a big problem, assuming you can get to one early enough. Even though most supermarkets and stores are still accepting bank card payments as well, Greeks want to get their funds out of the hands of banks as soon as possible. After all, if the Greek banks should go bankrupt, any remaining funds will be null and void.
Bitchain, a Spanish Bitcoin startup company, has been eyeing the Greece situation closely. And what better time than right now to unveil their first two-way Bitcoin ATM in the country’s capital of Athens? Regardless of whether bank ATM’s are accessible and dispersing funds or not, a Bitcoin ATM will keep working [as long as its EUR drawer is topped up regularly].
Unlike most Bitcoin ATM’s around the world, Bitchain’s Bitcoin ATM in Athens operates on a 0% fee schedule and uses the Kraken Bitcoin exchange rate. By opening up the possibility to both buy and sell Bitcoin in exchange for fiat currency at 0%, many Greeks may flock to Bitcoin in order to preserve [some of] their wealth while they still can.
In terms of transaction volume, over 2.000 EUR in transaction volume has gone through Bitchain’s machine as of the morning of Saturday July 11. In total, about 25 transactions had been conducted at the time of publication, although no official numbers in terms of buy/sell figures have been released at this time.
None of this would have been made possible, though, without the help of two important partners. First of all, there is Chip Chap, a Bitcoin startup we have covered in several articles on this website. There is also Faircoop, who played in important role in striking the deal to put this machine in Athens. Speaking of the Bitcoin ATM’s location, it can be found at Greek coworking space TheCube.gr, located at Klisovis 8, Athina 106 77.
Capital Controls Not A Hinderance Just Yet
During today’s AMA session on Reddit, one user asked how Greece’s tight capital controls are affecting the Bitcoin ATM’s volume. For the time being, it is impossible to move fiat currency out of the country by any means, yet this Bitcoin ATM has to be fed at certain intervals if people are looking to sell their BTC.
The owner of The Cube Athens explained, as follows: “Yes, there are indeed capital controls that prohibit the movement of money outside of the country, so we have agreed with all involved that if the ATM needs to be emptied, (which may not happen since people are buying and selling coin) any cash removed will be deposited in a local Greek bank account, so no money will be moved out of the system.”
Whether or not that is a wise business decision remains to be seen. But for the time being, there seems to be no issues, as regular transactions ensure the EUR drawer is filled up again as people buy small amounts of Bitcoin.
Images courtesy of The Cube Athens, BitChain and Shutterstock