Confiscation of Bitcoin ATMs in Russia Leads to Outcry from Local Operator

A Russian cryptocurrency company is fighting back against Russian authorities who, according to the company, illegally seized twenty-two Bitcoin ATMs operating throughout the country.

Details of the Seizure

BBFpro, a Russian company that services Bitcoin ATMs in Russia, is not experiencing the best of times, as Russian authorities have seized twenty-two of its ATMs. These ATMs, located in strategic places across nine cities, were impounded following orders from the Prosecutor General’s Office, which received a letter from Russia’s apex bank.

According to the company’s CEO, Artem Bedarev, no formal or prior warning was given regarding the confiscation. The CEO said that he was told verbally that investigations would take up to six months. During that period, the seized ATMs will be held by the regulatory body. Bedarev also said that he learned about the source of the operation from one of the officers who conducted the exercise.

Efforts to get a statement from a Central Bank official concerning the seizure proved futile. However, the official said that periodic checks are carried out by the regulatory body to hinder the prevalence of fraudulent activities. The official, buttressing the point made, said:

“The possibility of uncontrolled cross-border transfer of funds and their subsequent cashing carries high risks of the potential involvement of crypto-currencies in schemes aimed at illegal activities in the financial market.”

The attorney representing BBFpro, Sarkis Darbinyan, of the Digital Rights Center, expressed surprise at the action and said there was no law banning virtual currency purchase. Darbinyan added that his client was law-abiding, tax compliant, and carried out user identity verification, without being mandated. At the moment, the company is counting its losses and plans to file an appeal regarding the seizure of its machines.

Suggested Reading : Learn more about Bitcoin in our comprehensive Bitcoin guide.

The Rise of Bitcoin ATMs Worldwide

Bitcoin ATMs are spread across different countries in the world. While some countries have over 2000 Bitcoin ATMs, some have just one. Bitcoin ATMs may not be as common and widespread as ATMs used by financial institutions, but they are no doubt growing.

In August 2018, it was reported that the total number of Bitcoin ATMs globally had surpassed the 3,500 milestone, getting to 3,509. However, according to current statistics provided by Coinatmradar, the number of Bitcoin ATMs worldwide has reached 3652. The Bitcoin ATM chart monitor showed that 99.9% of virtual currency ATMs globally support Bitcoin.

Malta, which has been dubbed “blockchain island”, made moves in July to install two-way Bitcoin ATMs throughout the island. This move continues to reflect the country’s passion for virtual currency and its desire to make it accessible to its citizens.

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