Asia

Taiwan Rejects Bitcoin ATMs

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Written by Alan Chiu Tsang

Taiwan is joining the ranks of governments wary to join in on the craze that is the virtual currency bitcoin.

The island’s financial regulator said Monday that physical teller machines for the virtual currency “will not appear” here, after Las Vegas-based RoboCoin, which makes bitcoin ATMs, reportedly said it had chosen Taiwan and Hong Kong as its first spots to expand in Asia.

“Bitcoin is not a legal tender. Banks should not accept savings in bitcoins and the FSC will not allow the installation of bitcoin ATMs in Taiwan,” Tseng Ming-chung, chairman of Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission, told The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

RoboCoin couldn’t be reached for comment Monday during Asian daytime hours.

RoboCoin launched its first bitcoin ATM in a Vancouver coffee shop in November, where it racked up 1 million Canadian dollars (US$941,500) in transactions in less than a month. ATM users can either buy or sell bitcoin through the machines.

Taiwan is not alone in dodging the newfangled bitcoin frenzy. Governments and banks around the world are worried that the absence of scrutiny over bitcoin—which isn’t issued or backed by a central government but is created through a sophisticated computer process—could be a hotbed for money laundering or other illegal activities.

China’s central bank last month asked some domestic payment processors to stop trading with the country’s biggest bitcoin exchange, BTC China. The move sent the virtual currency’s value plunging by as much as 38% against the dollar at the time. The People’s Bank of China also said financial institutions shouldn’t take deposits from bitcoin-related businesses or provide them insurance or custody services, though it said individuals could continue to buy and sell bitcoin.

Hong Kong’s finance chief John Tsang warned in December that the bitcoin run couldn’t last forever because there was “no support from the real economy,” but the city’s Monetary Authority has reportedly said it won’t regulate the bitcoin ATMs.

According to Mt.Gox, an online bitcoin exchange, the virtual currency is currently trading at $1,049. The currency started 2013 at less than $20 and crossed the $1,000 threshold in November before plunging to $640 after BTC China stopping taking deposits.

Taiwan’s FSC said that usage of bitcoin on the island is “minimal,” with only a handful of online game providers accepting the currency. Wayi International Digital Entertainment Co., a Taiwanese online game provider, has said it intends to accept bitcoin and may even become an exchange.

About the author

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Alan Chiu Tsang

Alan is a freelancer photographer and author for FutureHandling.com. He also contributes to several other websites, including Magario and Magario's business partners.