In a bid to fight the economic crisis plaguing Argentina currently, which has plummeted the value of peso, Athena Bitcoin and Odyssey Group has decided to launch 30 Bitcoin [BTC] automated teller machines [ATMs] by the end of the year. This decision was taken after the peso lost almost 50% of its value against USD this year, according to Reuters.
All ATMs will be capable of buying and selling Bitcoins, with Odyssey Group’s ATMs offering an additional feature that will also facilitate conventional banking transactions, which will include cash deposits and withdrawal, and transfer of money between accounts.
This move comes a month after cryptocurrency ATMs debuted in Argentina, with Athena Bitcoin, a US-based company, installing the first machine in Buenos Aires shopping mall. Though the Odyssey Group does not have any active ATMs in Argentina currently, according to company representatives, it aims to deploy 150 machines by the end of the year. The company claims that 80% of them will be able to transact Bitcoin by the beginning of 2019.
Dante Galeazzi, the operations manager for Athena Bitcoin, Argentina, said:
“Today, 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.”
This expansion is not unexpected as the company already has 12 active teller machines in Columbia. According to Galezzi, Athena Bitcoin decided to cash in on the inflation crisis in Argentina, which presented a huge growth prospective for cryptocurrencies. Galezzi further added:
“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.”
An Odyssey Group-owned company, Octagon, will be taking care of the transactions coming through the former’s teller machines in Argentina. According to Begona Perez De Solay, the general manager of Octagon, his company is planning to deploy 1,600 Bitcoin-enabled Odyssey ATMs in the country by the end of 2019.
With the companies utilizing the market opportunity, more consumers are expected to flow into the cryptocurrency ecosystem. However, cryptocurrency enthusiasts and experts opine that authorities will try to regulate the market once the crisis is averted, stating high probability of frauds and money laundering.
Additionally, some investors are still weary of investing in digital tokens as most central banks have disapproved virtual assets, even as Bitcoin is currently a strong market leader.
According to Joe Ciccolo, the founder of BitAML, a digital currency consultancy, this concern can be averted by ensuring that each transaction at an ATM is pegged to a valid ID, which could even be an individual’s driver’s license. He said:
“ATMs can also enforce transaction controls such as daily limits per person and caps on transaction denominations.”
Odyssey Group and Athena Bitcoin are drawing up expansion plans in other Latin American countries as well, with Chile, Brazil, and Mexico being the front-runners.
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