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Athena says will install 1,500 cryptocurrency ATMs in El Salvador

Athena 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

Photo: REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/Files
  • Bukele has touted the cryptocurrency’s potential as a remittance currency for Salvadorans overseas;
  • The World Bank has said it cannot assist El Salvador’s bitcoin implementation given environmental and transparency drawbacks.

Athena Bitcoin plans to invest over $1 million to install cryptocurrency ATMs in El Salvador, especially where residents receive remittances from abroad, a company representative said on Thursday.

According to Athena Bitcoin’s website you can use their ATMs to buy bitcoins or sell them for cash.

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.

READ ALSO: El Salvador seeks World Bank help for bitcoin implementation

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.

READ ALSO: In El Salvador, the millennial that expands its authoritarian base and wants to “bitcoinize” the country

A year ago Athena installed its first cryptocurrency ATM in El Salvador’s El Zonte beach, some 49 km (30 mi) 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.

READ ALSO: Analysis: Despite El Salvador’s adoption of bitcoin as parallel legal tender, remittance firms are cautious about cryptocurrencies

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.

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