Athena Bitcoin plans to invest over $1 million (roughly Rs. 7.4 crores) to install cryptocurrency ATMs in El Salvador, especially where residents receive remittances from abroad, a company representative said on Thursday.
The firm expects to gradually install some 1,500 ATMs, hire staff, and open an office to carry out operations in El Salvador, which in June became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. The move takes effect in September.
El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele “presented us with a tough challenge of 1,500 ATMs, we will go for that, but in phases. We are a private company and we want to ensure that our development in the country is sustainable,” said the firm’s director for Latin America Matias Goldenhörn.
Bukele has touted the cryptocurrency’s potential as a remittance currency for Salvadorans overseas.
“Initially we are going to bring dozens of machines, (we’ll) test what the business model is like in El Salvador, which will probably be different than in the United States,” Goldenhörn added.
A year ago Athena installed its first cryptocurrency ATM in El Salvador’s El Zonte beach, some 49 km (30 miles) southwest of capital San Salvador, as part of an experiment called Bitcoin Beach aimed at making the town one of the world’s first Bitcoin economies.
The World Bank has said it cannot assist El Salvador’s bitcoin implementation given environmental and transparency drawbacks, and the International Monetary Fund has said it saw “macroeconomic, financial and legal issues” with the country’s adoption of the cryptocurrency.
© Thomson Reuters 2021