This week, another first was announced for Gibraltar: its first Bitcoin ATM has just been installed in the World Trade Center, and the Gibraltar WTC is the first one to offer this facility.
People who live and/or work in Gibraltar, as well as anyone who is visiting, can now purchase the cryptocurrency using cash and mobile phone wallet apps. The BATM, as the machine is known, accepts Sterling, Gibraltar Pounds and euro notes, and a fraction of a bitcoin can be purchased for as little as £10, or 10 euros.
By now, though, many readers will be wondering “but what is a Bitcoin?” Bitcoin is a form of digital currency, which is created and held electronically. It can be used to buy things electronically, but is never printed in the form of banknotes or coins. It differs from conventional money because it is decentralised, i.e. no single institution controls it. The smallest divisible amount is one hundred millionth of a Bitcoin and is called a ‘Satoshi’, after the man who founded Bitcoin.
Bitcoin ATMS are regarded as the beacons of the cryptocurrency industry, which has become a worldwide phenomenon. Bitcoin has reached its all-time highest price in the last few days. In January 2009, when it was first launched, one Bitcoin was worth $0.0001 (USD), but today it is a worth a whopping $4,000. Leading analysts predict that the value will hit a six-digit number in ten years’ time.
One establishment in the World Trade Center Gibraltar is already accepting bitcoins in payment. Dan Thomson, who owns the Supernatural health food restaurant on the mezzanine floor of the building, says that it was a natural progression to start to accept a modern currency and “as the first retail business to do so in Gibraltar, we hope it will raise awareness and encourage other retailers and customers to begin to use this type of currency as well.”
The Gibraltar government plans to introduce legislation in 2018 for the provision of Distribution Ledger Technology (DLT), including Blockchain, Bitcoin and other leading emerging eMoney innovations, to regulate and facilitate this rapidly expanding sector of FinTech companies, many of which have already been attracted to the World Trade Center in Gibraltar.
Ed Allison-Wright, of the WTC, considers that it is particularly fitting to have Gibraltar’s first Bitcoin ATM in the World Trade Center: “It sits at the heart of what this global brand represents and brings to Gibraltar; expanding horizons, enhancing growth and fostering new links with international partners,” he says.