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Hong Kong Company Launches City's First Bitcoin ATM

posted 13 Mar 2014, 08:48 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Mar 2014, 08:49 ]

A bitcoin exchange platform company introduces the first bitcoin ATM in Hong Kong despite turbulence market due to Mt. Gox's bankruptcy.

HONG KONG, CHINA (MARCH 13, 2014) (REUTERS) - A Hong Kong bitcoin exchange platform company launched the city's first bitcoin ATM on Thursday (March 13), about a month after the world's former largest bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox suspended trading and filed for bankruptcy.

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The machine, which only accepts deposits and not withdrawals, allows people to exchange Hong Kongdollars for the virtual currency.

Asia saw its first bitcoin vending machine in late February in Singapore.

To buy bitcoins, the machine would first scan the buyers' phone for the QR code of their virtual bitcoin wallet.

The buyer would then insert cash into the machine to complete the transaction.

Ken Lo, the chief executive of the Hong Kong company ANXBTC, said the ATM would take away one of the biggest hurdles for bitcoin users.

"So the main thing is accessibility. This is one more location or avenue for people to buy and sell bitcoins. So I think this will help with the adoption, because people are creatures of convenience. So, whatever, if it's too difficult for them, they won't do it, and if it's convenient for them, they will go for convenience," Lo said.

The market for the digital currency was rocked last month when the Tokyo-based exchange Mt. Gox, once the world's largest bitcoin exchange, ceased operations, and soon after filed for bankruptcy.

Mt. Gox said it may have lost 750,000 bitcoins, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in a hacking attack.

It suspended withdrawals on February 7, leaving customers unable to recover their funds.

Lo said while there are trust issues with bitcoins, he believed the virtual currency is still very secure.

"There is a trust issue. Like I said, I can't comment too much on Gox, on what went wrong or why, what the issues they face. But like I said before, technology-wise, the tools and the infrastructure is in place to support a very secure buying experience and also in transactions," Lo said.

The machine currently is located at ANXBTC's office and buyers can use it during office hours.

The company has yet to announce if, when and where the machine will be installed in a public space.

Bitcoin is bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network independent of central control. Its value soared last year, and the total value of bitcoins minted is now about $7 billion.