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UnionBank in Philippines Launches Crypto ATMs

UnionBank in Philippines Launches Crypto ATMs

Crypto adoption in the Philippines continues to take form with the Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) launching a two-way cryptocurrency ATM under its sandbox program.

In a statement to local media outlet The Philippine Star, the bank said: “The bank’s continued quest to cater to the evolving needs and tastes of customers, including clients who use virtual currency, the ATM will provide these clients an alternative channel to convert their pesos to virtual currency and vice versa.”

The initiative is said to serve the purpose of allowing crypto users to buy and sell crypto for fiat, hopefully, increasing the adoption of crypto usage in the country.

The Philippines has been making strides towards becoming a crypto inclusive economy, as it pushes for crypto adoption on many fronts. Last week, the country’s regulatory body, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) announced the provision of a set of rules that will provide clearer rules and guidelines for crypto innovation in the country.

More so, in a show of good faith, it gave 19 exchanges the permission to commence operation under the new regulatory framework.

The central bank had also been actively involved with crypto-related activities since last year. It had given permission to two of its commercial banks to transact cryptocurrencies, allowing them to exchange from cryptocurrency to Philippine peso.

The rise of ATM installations around the world has grown and continues to prove that crypto adoption is increasing despite the conditions of the market.

Last month, Bitcoin News reported how the installation of ATMs had gained traction in 2018 just as in 2017. With over 4,000 ATMs currently installed globally, sadly, only one had been listed in the Philippines before this latest one, according to data from Coin ATM Radar.

 

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Hitting the Sales With Crypto

Hitting the Sales With Crypto

2018 might not have been the best year in terms of cryptocurrency market performance, but it did see a host of new ways emerge for people to buy everyday items using digital currencies. Here are some of the options for consumers looking to spend some of their holdings during the winter sales.

Bitcoin ATMs

This year the number of Bitcoin ATMs across the globe doubled, with an average of six new installations emerging every day and the total number standing at around 4,050. Some of these machines are limited to transacting Bitcoin purchases only, while the rest can be used to make a quick sale for cash.

They can be found in up to 84 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, and Austria. Over half of the ATM machines offer services for at least one other cryptocurrency including but not limited to Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dash.

The nearest ATMs can be found using Coin ATM Radar.

Coinbase e-gift cards

Coinbase customers in the US, Australia, and select EU countries can withdraw funds from their account directly into an e-gift card vie WeGift. Options are available in fashion, food and drink, entertainment and home and leisure, with top brands including Nike, Adidas, and Dominos. The service is offered without fee, with some online merchants also offering a bonus of up to 5%.

Amazon, online stores

Bitrefill offers residents of Germany, France, the UK and the US online vouchers for major retailers, available to purchase with Bitcoin. It includes Amazon vouchers which also can be exchanged for Bitcoin on the decentralized trading platform LocalBitcoins.

Major retailers offering vouchers on Bitrefill and participating in the seasonal sales include Asos, Decathalon and Debenhams.

A number of other e-commerce sites accept cryptocurrency payment methods directly, including retail outlet Overstock, technology retailer Newegg, and some sellers on the alternative retailer for vintage or handmade goods, Etsy.

Check for local outlets

For those looking to spend cryptocurrency directly in local outlets, there are several websites available to help find stores willing to accept this payment method. Where to Spend Bitcoins provides this service for the UK, while Coinmap.org provides an international perspective. Europe and North America have the most condensed number of outlets, with South America, South Korea, and Japan also hosting a significant number.

Coinmap is particularly good for finding and supporting small businesses that share a faith in Bitcoin.

Where next?

In 2019, look out for more fast food restaurants offering a cryptocurrency payment choice, with this year’s trends indicating some of the most well-known names will expand into this service.

In January, KFC Canada offered “The Bitcoin Bucket,” a chicken tenders, waffle fries combination box, for USD 20 in Bitcoin, an offer which quickly sold out. Particular branches of Subway including in Altoona, PA have accepted Bitcoin as early as 2013, while the summer of 2018 saw 522 Venezuelan branches also include Dash as a valid form of payment.

While Starbucks denied rumors in August that they would be accepting direct Bitcoin payments any time soon, the coffee chain has partnered with Microsoft and Bakkt to allow people to convert their cryptocurrency into US dollars, with its support for digital currency still leaving many to speculate about future acceptance.

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Surge in Global ATMs Defies Crypto’s Downward Price Trends

Surge in Global ATMs Defies Crypto's Downward Price Trends

With Bitcoin trading at under USD 3,800 at the time, it marks a year of significant downward movement over a period of 12 months. Yet the rise in the number of global ATMs being installed is continuing.

Bitcoin’s recent slump hasn’t seemed to have affected the ATM industry with reports that it’s healthier than ever, given that at the beginning of 2017 there were only 1,000 machines worldwide. Bitcoin ATM startup BCB ATM saw its sales figures soar by 528% in just 11 months through 2017, and other companies are experiencing the same rise in sales in 2018. Rising Bitcoin prices over the past three years have accelerated the installation of machines with cryptocurrency’s wider adoption around the world.

Bitcoin machines are readily found in the US and Europe but are in increasingly being installed in most parts of the globe. A recent count revealed the US supporting a total of 2,133 ATMs, followed by Canada’s 604, United Kingdom’s 167, Austria’s 148, and the Russian Federation’s 72. Most ATMs only support five cryptocurrencies, which include Bitcoin [BTC], Bitcoin Cash [BCH], Ethereum [ETH], Dash [DASH], and Litecoin [LTC].

The top 10 manufacturers include Genesis Coin (1,165), General Bytes (920), Lamassu (390), BitAccess (210), Coinsource (195), Covault (119), BitXatm (70), Coinme (66), Orderbob ATM (46) and RusBit (43).

Traditional ATMs offer individuals and business owners the ability to withdraw or deposit fiat currency into or from their banking accounts or credit cards. Machines which allow customers to both buy and sell have increased by 35% as manufacturers have improved hardware. These machines have proved to be profitable for global operators as they charge fees for both buying and selling transactions, charging an average fee to the client of 8.77%.

Customers can now purchase their Bitcoin through vouchers, gift cards, and web-money kiosks. Switzerland leads the way with Bitcoin now available as payment at 1,357 railway ticket kiosks around the alpine nation. Recent announcements that from January 1 2019, customers would be able to buy coupons – in values of EUR 50, 100 or 250 – from French tabacs has been viewed by many as a questionable decision and one that was not condoned by the French central bank.

 

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Bitpay: Bitcoin the “Under Pound Gorilla” Will Eclipse Many Other Currencies

Global Bitcoin payment service provider Bitpay is making some upbeat predictions for 2019 which certainly paint a different picture to the digital currency’s rocky ride as 2018 comes to a close.

The Atlanta-based company’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Sonny Singh predicts that 2019 promises to be an “exciting” year which will push Bitcoin’s value up to between USD 15,000 and USD 20,000 by next December.

He believes that with the entry of Fidelity and Intercontinental Exchange into the market and ETFs getting the green light, 2019 will take on a whole new look when it comes down to investment opportunities. He commented it would be Bitcoin that would eclipse many other digital currencies whose fortunes were less easy to foresee, suggesting, “I don’t know what’s going to happen to them.”

He said, “There’s a night and day difference between Bitcoin and everything else. Bitcoin is the under pound gorilla, it’s the one that has the mass network effect… [the one] the traditional financial incumbents are building products around.”

In terms the durability of his gorilla, Sing argues that “Bitcoin survives first”, even in a poor market, despite its fluctuating fortunes. Blockstream CEO Bobby Lee, brother of Litecoin founder Charlie, agrees, suggesting that despite flashes of green in the last 24 hrs, Bitcoin could still threaten USD 3,000 but long-term, he feels it will overtake gold.

In this bear market for #Bitcoin, it’s worth reminding everyone that $BTC is still only one-hundredth of the value of #Gold: $80 billion vs $8 trillion.
Gold is worth 100 times more than Bitcoin today!
What will the ratio be in 10-20 years?
Will it flip, with Bitcoin worth more? pic.twitter.com/VIpzIDKfo0

— Bobby Lee (@bobbyclee) November 20, 2018

Currently, there is a consensus among certain cryptocurrency experts that with Bitcoin’s growing convenience as a payment method, illustrated by the march of ATMs worldwide, along with the digital currency becoming an internationally recognized household name, past hype could surrender to real value. A deflation of Bitcoin could “clean out weak hands”, according to the views of many investors. Serious players in the market would then be left to establish Bitcoin’s real value. EToro analyst Mati Greenspan says the ship isn’t sinking, but simply readjusting to its load:

“What we’re seeing now are the after-effects of the unprecedented rise of Bitcoin and other crypto assets in 2017. This year is simply a retracement of that… These cycles can sometimes be accentuated in the crypto market due to the riskier nature of this nascent industry. In the same way, previous cycles have not signaled the end for broader markets, these price movements don’t signal the end for crypto assets.”

For now, Singh’s gorilla is still in the mist, waiting for its moment to escape.

 

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The Ten Top Cities to Visit With Bitcoin in Your Pocket

Investopedia recently used Coin ATM Radar, coinmap.org and other metrics to calculate the best cities around the globe to visit with Bitcoin.

You don’t have to be in London or New York to use or access your bitcoins.  ATMs are turning up in the most unlikely places, such as the sleepy Devon town of Kingsbridge in the South West of England, where just last month a Bitcoin ATM was set up in the corner of the town’s Tourist Centre.

The Prague subway now has ten new machines spread across its route and the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), has clarified that banks in Germany now have the right to upgrade existing ATMs in the country to facilitate certain cryptocurrencies. With the last ATM count approaching 4000 worldwide, it won’t be too long before one is accessible wherever a traveler finds themselves.

So, until then, for the global traveler, where is the best place to cash out some BTC or buy dinner? The following breakdown includes Investopedia’s top dogs when it comes to accessing or spending your crypto funds. Here are the top ten based on Bitcoin accessibility and usability.

  1. The global base of mega crypto exchange Coinbase is San Francisco, not only home of the street tram and Fisherman’s Wharf, but also home to 177 Bitcoin-accepting merchants and 29 Bitcoin ATMs.
  2. Canada has a reputation for being crypto friendly, having been recently described as further advanced in cryptocurrency policy than its US neighbor. The coastal city of Vancouver boasts of 86 merchants accepting the digital currency as well as 48 Bitcoin ATMs around the city.
  3. Half a million Dutch households own crypto so it is unsurprising that Dutch capital Amsterdam is Bitcoin-friendly to the traveler. There are about 74 merchants around the tiny country, with a population under 800,000, accepting Bitcoin. Although, ATMs are not yet patronized as that of the neighboring cities. Approximately 60% of the households in the Netherlands who invest in cryptocurrencies started doing so in 2017.
  4. Ljubljana, Slovenia with a tiny population of 272,000, Ljubljana has 51 merchants accepting Bitcoin and five ATMs.
  5. Tel Aviv, Israel. Israel’s financial center offers 58 merchants that are more than happy to take BTC and has 4 Bitcoin ATMs. Bitcoin is a fact of life in the country, and the government has acknowledged it as a taxable asset with investors purchasing gold and real estate with the flagship cryptocurrency, cherishing its anonymity.
  6. Along with Malta, Switzerland is Europe’s real crypto mover and shaker. Out of the world’s six biggest initial coin offerings (ICOs) last year, four took place in Switzerland, according to Swiss financial watchdog, Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). In Zurich 64 merchants take Bitcoin and eight ATMs serve a tiny population of 366,000. Bitcoin is now available as payment at 1,357 railway ticket kiosks around the alpine nation.
  7. Tampa, Florida may seem an unlikely place to find a community utilizing cryptocurrency but the city provides as many as 93 merchants accepting BTC. Also, a good scattering of 13 ATMs around the city means that travelers are never far from a source of cash.
  8. Both Venezuela and Argentina are in financial crisis. However traveling in Buenos Aires with Bitcoin is made easy with a huge 130 merchants accepting Bitcoin and 3 ATMs, although the government of Argentina has promised to swell those numbers over the next few years. In fact, with no intention of keeping things small, Argentina plans to become the world’s biggest player with pre-agreements to install 4,000 ATM around the South American country.
  9. New York usually does things big, hence 117 ATMs around the city, meaning that most areas of the city are covered whether up, mid, or downtown. 122 merchants also accept Bitcoin as payment. Wall St. has been making noises about crypto this year, so it shouldn’t be too long before banks update their fiat ATMs in America’s banking metropolis.
  10. The UK was quick to take to cryptocurrency; 88 merchants accepting Bitcoin and 74 ATMs around the busy and culturally diverse capital illustrate this enthusiasm. London made the news recently when a mosque announced that it had successfully reached and exceeded its target of donations over the Ramadan period – in cryptocurrency.

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100,000 Regular ATMs in the Us Can Easily Become Bitcoin ATMs as Genmega and LibertyX Team Up

ATM manufacturer Genmega and LibertyX have partnered to offer Bitcoin buying functionality on regular ATMs. 100,000 regular ATMs can now become Bitcoin ATMs with a simple upgrade. It is likely that large amounts of Genmega ATM owners will do this upgrade since it provides extra revenue and extra attention without any upfront cost or new hardware.

The Bitcoin and crypto ATM industry has been proliferating. There are 3,894 Bitcoin ATMs worldwide as of this writing on 18 October 2018, up from 2,086 at the beginning of 2018 and 949 at the beginning of 2017. This near-exponential growth of the number of Bitcoin ATMs is building critical infrastructure that turns Bitcoin into a currency that can be used in everyday life, especially in the case of 2-way Bitcoin ATMs that facilitate both buying and selling of the popular cryptocurrency. It helps people paid with Bitcoin, get the cash they need for food and rent. In general, even ATMs that only offer Bitcoin buying are still increasing global demand for the digital currency by providing upward pressure on Bitcoin’s price.

If all 100,000 Genmega ATMs are upgraded, then the number of Bitcoin ATMs will skyrocket by more than an order of magnitude. This could drastically increase Bitcoin adoption, since people that go to regular ATMs will see that Bitcoin is available, and if they did not know about Bitcoin already, they would probably research it and possibly buy it. It will be easier than ever before to buy Bitcoin across the United States if even a fraction of Genmega ATMs upgrade. The combination of Genmega Bitcoin ATMs and classic Bitcoin ATMs will make instant Bitcoin buying available in practically every town across the country.

At this time Genmega ATMs will only be offering Bitcoin purchase option, since LibertyX, which is the exchange they partnered with, only offers Bitcoin buying. LibertyX is a top method in the United States for buying Bitcoin with cash. Users of LibertyX bring cash to a LibertyX location, which can be any store that chooses to offer LibertyX. They exchange cash for a voucher that can be instantly redeemed for Bitcoin. LibertyX is something like a mix between a Bitcoin exchange and a Bitcoin dealer, and they actually launched the first Bitcoin ATMs in the United States back in 2014.

As of 2014, there were 420,000 regular fiat ATMs in the United States, 100X more than all the Bitcoin ATMs in the world as of 2018, and the number of regular fiat ATMs has probably grown since 2014. Worldwide there are an estimated 3.5 million ATMs. If these regular ATMs can become Bitcoin ATMs with a simple software upgrade like that offered by Genmega and LibertyX, then the number of Bitcoin ATMs will grow at unprecedented speeds, and Bitcoin’s price will likely go up from increased demand.

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First Bitcoin ATM Appears in India Despite Central Bank Crackdown

Despite the central bank’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin in India, the country’s first Bitcoin ATM has been established in Bengaluru’s Kemp Fort Mall.

The ATM is for the exclusive use of local crypto exchange Unocoin’s clients, allowing users to deposit cash or withdraw money for future use on Unocoin’s website or smart device application.

The machines offer a way of circumventing the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) cryptocurrency crackdown, as Unocoin say they do not involve the country’s banking system in any way, hence do not fall under the jurisdiction of the central bank. While Unocoin accepts that standard Bitcoin ATM’s would be banned in the country under RBI guidelines, it believes that because they do not offer banking services technically speaking, its ATMs are exempt.

Some of the harsh restrictions that RBI has established include a prohibition of business relationships between lenders and digital currency exchanges and traders, leading to a decline in trading volumes, local cryptocurrency businesses suffering financially, and a general backlash from the whole, suffering industry in India.

Differing slightly from Bitcoin ATMs seen outside the country, Unocoin hopes to fill the vacuum left by banks retreating from offering crypto businesses and investors financial services. With each user given unique access keys to their account, they cannot purchase assets directly from the machine but need to access the website or app to complete the transaction. Its predominant use is to allow users to deposit their cash for later use on the site.

Right now, the machine can accept cash deposits between INR 1,000 and INR 10,000.

Two more ATMs from Unocoin are scheduled for launch in Mumbai and New Delhi later this week, adding to an overall estimated total of 3,879 cryptocurrency ATMs operating in 76 countries.

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German Banks Can Offer ATMs Exchanging Bitcoin and Ether to Euro

The German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), has clarified that banks have the right to upgrade existing ATMs in the country to facilitate certain cryptocurrencies, according to Trustnodes.

The German FCA has announced that the country’s banks can take up the new option, but as yet none have responded to the opportunity to allow customers to exchange BTC or Ether for Euros using the machines.

Responding to a question by Thomas Lutze, representative of a left-wing party in Germany, BaFin stated:

“Each institute, which has permission for proprietary trading, also has the right to set up machines that allow the exchange of Bitcoin in euros and vice versa. So far it is not known that this was done.”

Its reported that the modification of the machines would offer QR code facilities to enable simple address scanning and modification.

Cryptocurrency ATMs are becoming far more commonplace around the globe, although Europe has a long way before it catches up with the US. Prague has recently seen the arrival of 10 new Bitcoin ATMs across the city’s subway routes, and London now has 74 positioned around the city, although 118 businesses also accept Bitcoin as payment.

However, London ranks 6th globally on the crypto convenience list, with the top five cities all located in North America. Los Angeles tops the list with 145 ATMs and over 850 firms accepting Bitcoin payments. Other cities with a healthy spread include Toronto, New York, and Atlanta. Argentina has expressed a desire to have a gargantuan total of 30,000 located across the nation and US capital Washington DC has recently doubled its ATM availability from 20 to 40 due to public demand.

There are reportedly six German banks currently trading cryptocurrency according to BaFin, although the banks haven’t as yet been named. It remains to be seen whether banks see enough customer demand to operate the service

However, German stock exchanges are seriously looking at cryptocurrency options for the future. Deutsche Boerse, the owner of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, is evaluating whether to offer cryptocurrency products, according to Bloomberg. If this is the case, this will be the second German stock exchange to make announcements this year regarding a move towards the adoption of cryptocurrency related products, after Boerse Stuttgart Digital Adventures announced the release of its Bison app in April.

 

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A Traveler’s Guide: How to See the World With Bitcoin in 2018

After software developer Felix Weiss from Luxembourg attracted worldwide attention two years ago, by traveling the world with Bitcoin at his disposal, Hard Fork asks the question: Has this feat become easier in 2018?

When Weiss left on his world trip in January 2015 Bitcoin had crashed to around $200 per BTC, but started to slowly climb back en-route which he said had helped him to complete his 18-month journey. He said that the easiest country had been the US, particularly San Francisco, where Bitcoin acceptance was widespread around the city.

He struggled in Cuba having to revert to cash. In Asia, he said his cash usage again was high and found a higher degree of Bitcoin acceptance in South America.

Hard Fork’s Neer Varshney researched how this picture might pan out in today’s crypto space by contacting airlines: the first port of call for any travelers. He found that there are multiple airlines accepting cryptocurrency payments including CheapAir.com, who started accepting cryptocurrency payments as far back as 2013. The company now accepts Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Dash payments.

Other companies offering cryptocurrency booking services included Expedia, BTCtrip.com, Destinia.com, Japan’s Peach Aviation, California’s Surf Air, and Latvia’s airBaltic, and A Bit Sky.

Finding a placed to stay has become even easier as most of these companies also allow you to pay in crypto for accommodation too, although it depends on exactly which part of the world the traveler chooses.

Eating is not quite such a simple affair with limited restaurants and cafes around the globe accepting Bitcoin and other currencies. Although, CoinMap can help travelers find a Bitcoin-accepting venue for the next meal. La Sirene in Manhattan now accepts Bitcoin. Some companies now offer a gift card service which can be used to purchase food coupons for Bitcoin.

Shopping has become easier with many online stores now accepting the popular cryptocurrency, and as revealed in the last week if you land in Brisbane, the International airport there will be welcoming crypto payments in all its terminal shops and cafe’s this year.

The last resort, of course, is to hunt down a Bitcoin ATM. This is good news for the traveler, as there are now over 3000 such ATMs worldwide, and if South America is the list, then Argentina must be a destination for the discerning Bitcoin traveler, with its plan to install 30,000 machines in that country alone. Europe and the US are increasingly installing machines to keep up with customer demand, most machines offering Bitcoin and often a choice of other major digital currencies.

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Jo’Burg’s First ATM Hopes to Enthuse Local South Africans Towards Bitcoin

South Africa has its first cryptocurrency ATM since 2104 and the new Northwold Spar machine in Johannesburg will become the only one operating in the country, reports Bitcoinist.

George Neophytou, the General Manager of the Northwold Spar and self-confessed crypto enthusiast was inspired to purchase the machine after a trip to Europe, the continent with the world’s third market share of crypto ATMs, He comments:

“It is all awfully exciting. It will take away much the frustration of buying and selling cryptocurrency, and hopefully help make cryptocurrencies mainstream… It’s a different world there. Walking around in the streets of Germany you see signs with ‘Bitcoins accepted there’.”

The ATM, which was imported from Portugal, will be able to process various forms of cryptocurrency tokens including Ethereum and Bitcoin. It’s not the first in South Africa, as a previous machine was installed in 2014 at a men’s salon in Midrand, Johannesburg, but was closed down after a short period in operation. The store manager was excited about the prospect of making cryptocurrency available to his customers:

“It is all awfully exciting. It will take away much the frustration of buying and selling cryptocurrency, and hopefully help make cryptocurrencies mainstream…Lots of people in South Africa are also in the cryptocurrency space and lots of South Africans are watching it. However, not all individuals have access to it.”

Neophyou hopes that his ATM will make cryptocurrency accessible to those customers without a bank account, and hopes to roll out more ATMs, if successful. Although, he warns that those using the machine should do their research and understand that they should only spend what they can afford to lose.

A recent survey conducted in South Africa maintained that one in four respondents confirmed they plan to invest in cryptocurrency in the future, and another 15% said that they would invest in mining equipment. Although, warnings of electricity hikes of up to 50% in the near future may well dampen the enthusiasm of prospective bitcoin miners, according to LiveBitcoinNews.com

South Africa joins Zimbabwe and Djibouti are currently the only African countries to offer cryptocurrency ATMs.

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