Demand for bitcoin is growing in Europe’s 12th largest country and so is its bitcoin ecosystem. According to data collected by Coin Dance, trading volumes at peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange LocalBitcoins have increased substantially in Romania in the last 18 months.
LocalBitcoins, however, is not the only bitcoin exchange that has witnessed a surge in demand. Local Romanian digital currency exchange CoinFlux has recently announced that $23.8 million (100 million RON) worth of digital currency has been traded on its exchange since the company’s inception in December 2015.
CoinFlux was founded by former fund manager Vlad Nistor. It enables Romanians to buy and sell bitcoin, ether, litecoin and ethereum classic for the Romanian leu and the euro. While several altcoins are on offer, most of CoinFlux’s trading volumes are centered around bitcoin and ether.
“Most of our transactions in the last quarter involved bitcoin (89 percent), but we have witnessed an increase in interest in other currencies, especially ether,” Nistor stated.
Looking forward, Nistor told Bitcoin Magazine: “Until now, we have been focused on our core market in Romania. We have joined one of the best accelerator programmes in Romania, MVP Academy, with the aim of receiving support as we develop our strategy to expand our services into other European Union countries.”
Nistor said that the current stance of Romania’s regulators toward bitcoin and digital currencies is one of caution. “The Romanian National Bank is reserved about bitcoin, as is the European Central Bank. I think this is the reasonable position to take as the only monetary issuing authority in the country. They've issued several statements warning users about digital currencies, also stating that they will not permit risky products that could undermine consumer protection or the banking sector.”
As the demand for bitcoin is growing in Romania, so is the country’s bitcoin ecosystem. On March 24, 2017, Bitcoin Romania, a bitcoin exchange and bitcoin ATM network operator, announced that it is partnering with local money transfer operator Smith & Smith to offer bitcoin purchases at 70 physical locations throughout the country. The new service will allow bitcoin users to deposit or withdraw cash in exchange for bitcoins without needing to attach their bank accounts to Bitcoin Romania’s online trading platform.
“Ever since we launched, we wanted to make bitcoin trading easy, both in term of processing time and in terms of proximity to customers," said George Rotariu, CEO of Bitcoin Romania. "We are happy that we can improve our online platform services and, besides existing options like instant bank transfers and our country-wide ATMs and terminals network, we added instant cash and withdrawals through our partners Smith & Smith. We are counting on the experience and safety offered by Smith & Smith and we are sure that this collaboration will be successful both for us and especially for our customers.”
“The locations of Smith & Smith agencies make it possible for all the users from all over the country to successfully finalize their trading actions. Given the fact that these agencies are located in over 60 towns, we offer our customers the possibility to easily [access] one of these locations.”
As Romania’s tech startup scene is growing, so are its entrepreneurs’ activities in the Bitcoin space. Aside from Bitcoin Romania and CoinFlux, other notable startups that are working on bringing bitcoin to Romania include mobile bitcoin wallet Coinfetti and bitcoin exchanges BitcoinxRomania and BtcXchange.