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First Bitcoin ATM Lands in Latin America

Op-ed - First Bitcoin ATM Lands in Latin America

Beginning Monday, technology enthusiasts in Brazil became able to convert the Brazilian Real to Bitcoin using a Bitcoin vending machine, also known as a Bitcoin ATM. The unveiling marks the first Bitcoin ATM to be installed in Latin America, with a permanent position at a Sao Paulo bar which is already accepting Bitcoin. As the popularity of digital currency in Latin America continues, many businesses and individuals are taking advantage of the benefits that this new payment method provides.

For businesses in developing countries, Bitcoin gives businesses the ability to end costly trade restrictions that decrease profits and hinder their ability to compete in the global marketplace. Bitcoin can also cut transaction fees associated with debit and credit card transactions. In countries like those in Latin America, some financial institutions will charge businesses astronomically high transaction fees. This is because banking systems in developing countries often have to deal with devaluing or inflationary currencies, along with many other political implications. Legislation in Latin America in regards to Bitcoin has yet to become official, not unsimilar to most countries around the world.

Not only is Bitcoin allowing business owners in Latin America to grow internationally, but zero transaction fees provide savings that businesses in the region can use to increase employee pay. Although usage is not mainstream, many are extremely optimistic of the future of virtual currency and believe the Bitcoin ATM in Sao Paulo is just the beginning.

The ATM is located in the technology center of Sao Paulo, blocks away from international offices of Facebook, Google, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Also in the area is software provider Red Hat, and some of the region’s largest investment banking and brokerage firms, BTG Pactual and XP Investimentos, respectively. The Lamassu Bitcoin ATM was the first brought to Latin America early this year. A few short months later the vending machine found its permanent home in Sao Paulo and was installed by Bitcoin brokerage, Mercado Bitcoin.

Mercado Bitcoin was founded in 2011, and began serving as a facilitator of the buying and selling of virtual currency in Brazil. Created as a Bitcoin exchange, the company also began trading Litecoin in 2013 and in 2014 and became a digital money company with a complete suite of digital money applications. Mercado Bitcoin believes that the World Cup in June and the Olympic games in 2016 will serve as large opportunities to test new payment technology like Bitcoin.

Lamassu, the company behind the Bitcoin ATM, was launched in 2013, and since has become a very popular platform to buy Bitcoin in-person. Lamassu currently has more than 100 machines around the world. Aside from acting as a Bitcoin vending machine, the company recently announced plans to become portals for Bitcoin services. Lamassu’s Latin American debut will help promote the use of virtual currency within the region.

In Latin America, the brand new Bitcoin ATM and events like last year’s Latin American Bitcoin Conference will continue to promote the use of virtual currency throughout the region. For those in Brazil looking to get their hands on Bitcoin, the permanent location of the new Bitcoin ATM in Sao Paulo, installed by Mercado Bitcoin, is the place to go.

One of our readers informed us the ATM from this post wasn’t the first in Latin America. We have updated our information to reflect this. Thanks!