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Major Saudi ATM Provider Partners With Blockchain Identity Platform

Saudi ATM provider Alhamrani Universal and blockchain firm ShoCard will jointly develop a new type of ATM combining blockchain and biometrics technologies.

Saudi automated teller machine (ATM) provider Alhamrani Universal (AU) has collaborated with blockchain identity platform ShoCard to develop a blockchain-based biometric ATM, according to a press release published on Feb. 27.

The collaboration will see AU and ShoCard create a new type of an ATM combining blockchain technology and biometrics as part of a five-factor authentication process. The ATM will reportedly allow customers to use a blockchain-based app and facial recognition instead of personal identification numbers to withdraw funds.

The ATMs will purportedly be able to communicate across banks in the region, while the deployment of blockchain technology will allow it to confirm users’ identities without the need to access bank databases. Armin Ebrahimi, Founder and CEO of ShoCard, said that blockchain “protect[s] individuals’ identity while confirming the information that banks need to verify that a withdrawal is legitimate.”

Founded in 1981, Alhamrani Universal is purportedly the largest ATM provider in the Middle East, having an over 50 percent of the ATM market share in Saudi Arabia.

Blockchain has been widely adopted for identity management systems. Recently, global computer tech giant Oracle announced the expansion of features on its commercial Oracle Blockchain Platform, including identity management and data integration features, such as enabling the integration of blockchain transaction history with other data resources.

In November of last year, American software corporation Microsoft released a serverless blockchain-powered Azure development kit, which contains features like off-chain identity and data, monitoring, and messaging application programming interfaces (API) in a format that can be used to develop blockchain-based apps.

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Report: Crypto ATM Market Expected to Grow to $144.5 Million by 2023

The crypto automated trading machine (ATM) market will grow to $114.5 million by 2023, according a report published Sept. 4 on

Researchers expect the cryptocurrency ATM market to grow from $16.3 million in 2018 to $144.5 million by 2023, citing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 54.7 percent from 2018 to 2023.

According to the study, significant growth during the forecast period will be from two-way ATMs, which let customers change digital currency into fiat and vise-versa using a single machine. The study says that the machines’ functionality is the key driver of two-way crypto ATMs’ popularity among users.

The authors of the report highlight rapidly expanding capabilities in developed countries like the U.S., Germany, and Japan, and the increasing rate of crypto adoption as prime growth factors in the crypto ATM market.

The North American crypto ATM market will purportedly hold the largest share of the crypto market by 2023. The presence of a large number of crypto ATM hardware and software providers, as well as a favorable investment environment will facilitate the dominant position of the U.S. in the market.

At the same time, the study also identifies regulatory uncertainty, in addition to lack of awareness and technical understanding of cryptocurrencies as factors that can limit the growth of the crypto ATM market.  

Targeting mainstream adoption, Ontario-based Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH)  ATM manufacturer LocalCoinATM installed a batch of ETH ATMs in three different locations in Canada, including Toronto, Brampton and Etobicoke in 2017. That year South Korean ATM manufacturer Hyosung officially integrated BTC into its international ATM models.

While the crypto ATM market is projected to grow over the next five years, traditional ATM manufacturers consider digital currencies a threat to their business. In March, the world’s largest ATM operator Cardtronics pinpointed cryptocurrencies among the major risks to their business in an annual report. Consumer behavior analysis reportedly showed a significant shift in preferred payment methods, with more customers now choosing electronic forms of payment over traditional physical banknotes, leading to a decline in the use of ATMs.

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Bitcoin ATMs Find Love In Greece, Market To Boom

Over the last few months, crypto ATMs have grown popular in various regions in the global financial market, with many market players getting onboard. Crypto ATMs allow users to buy or sell their digital assets like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Dashcoin, and others. Greece is one of the countries where these machines are fast gaining popularity.

What Makes Them Tick?

At the moment, there’s one crypto ATM in the Greek region of Thessaloniki and 4 in Athens. Media reports indicate that more Greek cities will embrace the use of crypto ATMs in the near future, with more of such machines set to be installed in various parts of the country in the coming months. Stefanos Getsopoulos is the co-founder of a popular crypto company, Thess Cash Hallas, and he says that plans are underway to install 3 more crypto ATMs in Northern Greece.

The love of these ATMs is largely driven by many crypto users’ preference of a freer financial and investment market as opposed to the largely centralized institutions like banks. As such, many users opt to use cryptos to avoid the centralized system. Also, some cryptocurrency users embrace the use of the ATMs as they provide an easier way to access their assets faster. In fact, crypto ATMs allow users to liquidate and withdraw their digital assets in fiat currency wherever they are. This advantage makes the ATMs even more popular in the crypto community.

There’s A Boom In The Offing

A report released recently by MarketsandMarkets, a research firm, projects the global crypto ATM market to hit north of $144.5 million by the year 2023, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of about 54%.  Just last year, the market value totaled around $6.8 million. Currently, the market value stands at about $16.3 million, meaning that in the next 5 years, the global crypto ATM market is expected to grow eightfold.

Understandably, this projected market expansion might come as a shock to some, but a critical look at the figures of 2017 compared to the current figures gives all the indications of an exponentially growing market. In the last few months from 2017, the market has expanded by upwards of 50%.

According to the same report by MarketsandMarkets, the growth of the crypto market would also trigger an increase in the overall number of transactions conducted through the ATMs. This would, in turn, create the need for more crypto ATMs in service. There are now about 3,650 BATMs (Bitcoin ATMs) in service around the world, with about 4 machines being commissioned every single week.

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ATM Giant Cardtronics Considers Cryptocurrencies As Threat To Its Business

Cardtronics, the world’s largest ATM operator, considers virtual currencies among the major risks to their business, as stated in its latest 10-K annual report.

According to the report the company filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), consumer behavior analysis shows a significant shift in preferable payment methods. More customers now choose electronic forms of payment over traditional physical banknotes.

“The continued growth in electronic payment methods, such as mobile phone payments or contactless payments, could result in a reduced need for cash in the marketplace and ultimately, a decline in the usage of ATMs,” the company claimed.

In addition to the payment methods above, Cardtronics emphasized virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, as possible causes for the general population’s reduced demand for cash. All these factors combined would affect transaction volumes in a negative way, the company believes.

With the rapid development of new contactless payment methods and increased usage of digital methods of paying in daily life, the move away from cash seems expected.

In October 2017, Sweden expressed its willingness to become a cashless society. Already, 900 of Sweden’s 1,600 bank branches no longer store cash, and do not accept cash deposits.

Prior to Sweden, the Chamber of Commerce of Denmark proposed allowing most retailers to legally refuse cash payments from clients. Nearly one third of Danes prefer the cellphone app MobilePay to conduct monetary transactions, according to the Ideals news site.

At the same time, Hyosung, one of the leading manufacturers of ATMs in Asia headquartered in Texas, integrated Bitcoin into its international ATM models, allowing millions of users to withdraw and deposit cash to sell or buy Bitcoin.

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No ban in Singapore as Bitcoin ATMs run dry

Markets fluctuate and selloffs occur, this is a natural cycle, things can’t go up forever. Inexperienced traders will panic sell and the downtrend will strengthen, some however will see a buying opportunity when prices are low. This is exactly what has been happening in Singapore this week when there was a rush on Bitcoin ATMs in the city.

The state’s Monetary Authority of Singapore has taken a similar stance to the South Korean government. It wants more transparency and less anonymity for cryptocurrency trading and exchanges which it fears can be used for money laundering and terrorism financing.

“MAS regulates the activities that surround virtual currencies if those activities fall within our scope as a financial regulator. The risks surrounding virtual currency exchanges include those related to money laundering and terrorism financing. Virtual currency transactions, given their anonymous nature, are particularly vulnerable to abuse for money laundering and terrorism financing. MAS will therefore introduce anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism requirements on virtual currency intermediaries that deal in or facilitate the exchange of virtual currencies for real currencies. The regulations will extend to the exchange of virtual currency for fiat currency, or another virtual currency.”

This is likely to mean stricter identity checks for those using crypto exchanges as is the case in many other countries, it is nothing new.

Singaporeans have been bullish during the week snapping up Bitcoin as prices tumbled below $10,000 for the first time in almost three months. Crypto ATM machines in the city sold out of Bitcoins as buyers clamored to get discount coins.  

One café manager who has a Bitcoin ATM told media that he had to put an ‘out of service’ sign at his machine. Over the past two days, they’ve had 20 to 30 people line up, from about 10 on a usual day. Other machine owners claim that sellers are holding back in anticipation of higher prices so there is less supply. Buyers want the price of Bitcoin to drop further so they can load up on them.

Singapore, like Japan and Thailand, remains open to crypto trading and exchanges and embraces blockchain innovation. Those in China facing further clampdowns may look towards Hong Kong or Singapore to get their crypto fix.  South Koreans on the other hand have taken to social media to vent their frustrations on their government’s constant indecisiveness and fearmongering which has no doubt affected crypto prices globally over the past few weeks.

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Crypto on Main Street: Company Creates Crypto ATMs for Mainstream Use

The cryptocurrency industry has in the past year reached a level of public interest that until recently was unimaginable. Previously associated with black market dealings, security flaws and speculation, Bitcoin, Ethereum and the many other altcoins have this year drawn unprecedented positive interest from banks, governments and businesses.

The underlying Blockchain technology (which allows totally new types of economic transactions) has drawn praise from such reputable institutions as Microsoft, Goldman Sachs and the US Senate. And as a payment method, businesses are lining up to participate in the crypto industry.

This is a level of interest that even the biggest trends in tech (like Big Data, sensors, or quantum computing) haven’t achieved. However, this is overshadowed by a big problem with cryptocurrencies: they are still not easy to use.

Long term investors and early adopters might not see any issue when transacting in crypto, but newcomers often complain about the difficulty of using exchanges, mining fees and managing security. The fact is, using your bank card to withdraw fiat is easier, quicker and more secure.

This situation creates a bottleneck: many new and old crypto users are clamouring for an easier way to use the currencies. Whoever can make this easier and cheaper stands to gain big market share in this rapidly expanding industry.

Going back to the cash example, nothing is more convenient than ATMs for accessing funds quickly. A European company, Cointed, is banking on the potential for a new generation of crypto ATMs to really drive home mainstream consumer adoption.

Cointed does not just provide a regular crypto ATM experience, they are an organisation that is making the entire ATM system more efficient and usable.

The issue with ATMs

There are several drawbacks with cryptocurrency ATMs compared to conventional ATMs. First and foremost, there is the obvious issue of fees; any transaction method that charges the user a few percent in transaction fees is obviously going to be a deterrent.

Furthermore, the nature of the ATM industry makes upkeep and support more difficult. Providers and manufacturers exist for ATMs, which means that there is a company that manages the software and exchange on the machine, as well as another company who manufactures the machine itself. This can lead to support issues and less efficient ATMs.

Cointed has a new business model that is quite different than existing market offerings, as reported in the latest Bitcoin News. This is primarily because they are both the manufacturer and the provider of their ATMs.

Lower fees, more options

The ATM was mainly developed in Austria, where the company has many machines deployed. Cointed’s main selling point is their much lower fees. Whereas other offerings charge on average around 8% to buy Bitcoin and 4% to sell, Cointed charges around half this on average (2.5 – 4.5% and 1 – 3% respectively). Furthermore, their ATMs have more options: they support Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dash and Ethereum while also having a much higher transaction limits – up to €15k for registered users.

These lower fees are due to Cointed’s overall strategy which involves not only making ATMs more accessible, but also putting work into improving the technology they run on and the platform used.

First of all, the servers that power Cointed’s ecosystem are more advanced and use higher quality cooling which enables much more efficient operations. They also have their own API system (PayCo) that allows customers and users to interact with the machines more easily. Cointed is using this to target Point of Sale users in retail, for example.

This is all underpinned by their own exchange which facilitates the whole ecosystem, enabling cost-effective trading across currencies. There is also a Cointed debit card that makes using cryptocurrencies even more similar to standard financial interactions. Cointed even sells high-quality mining equipment to those who want to mine – you can even opt to have the mining equipment installed at the Cointed facilities and run from there!

And like all crypto ecosystems (but not all crypto ATM operators), Cointed is optimized for optional use of their own token which facilitates interaction between all parties. The Cointed token is not a required but a beneficial aspect when using the Cointed system, allowing token holders to save money.

Bridging the gap

As you can see, Cointed believes that the problem of getting crypto into more people’s hands in a cheap and efficient way requires new thinking. They are using a complete ecosystem of solutions instead of standalone devices and software.

The Cointed token used in their ecosystem is on sale; this CTD token also allows holders to benefit from lower fees and to trade easier. Furthermore, Cointed’s debit card is available with a minimum investment of 20 ETH before 19th of November and during this period there will be a bonus 15% CTD offered for each investment. Early investors will have the opportunity of getting in on the ground floor of Cointed’s global expansion.

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Government and Startups are Partnering Effectively to Develop Blockchain in Nigeria

Blockchain activities in Nigeria is beginning to put the nation on a solid technical foundation. This is causing some to suggest that Africa stands to benefit more than any place in the world from the emerging technology.

The signs of a welcoming community are evident in the openness and unbiased approach of the nation’s government so far towards understanding the intricacies of the ecosystem. The Nigerian government is trying to map out a balanced operational environment where the most benefit can be achieved from the emerging technology.

Awareness and protection

One of the major stakeholders within the industry that has worked extensively with the Nigerian government is the Cryptography Development Initiative of Nigeria (CDIN). Through one of its organs, the Nigerian Blockchain Alliance (NBA), CDIN has been involved in the fight against crypto scams in Nigeria since 2015.

According to Adeolu Fadele, President of CDIN, the major objective of his group is to help Nigerians leverage the opportunities presented by Blockchain and digital currency. Ultimately, this will reposition the nation for overall growth and development while protecting them from risks.

Fadele notes that as a trailblazer in the Nigerian Blockchain and digital currency ecosystem, CDIN has played the role of a “forerunner organization.” They have created awareness among the relevant government agencies on the need to understand and respond to the disruptive nature of the global digital revolution without stifling innovation. Fadele elaborates:

“Today, we are proud to say that the friendly regulatory environment enjoyed by the Nigerian Blockchain and digital currency ecosystem could be partly attributed to our early engagements with the policy makers and law enforcements agents. We have worked in collaboration with the commercial banks, Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) and the Nigerian Police Force to fight cryptocurrency SCAM. Significant success was recorded in discouraging the growing criminal activities in the Nigerian Blockchain and Digital currency ecosystem and funds were successfully recovered for victims in many cases.”

He continues by explaining that these proactive efforts have discouraged criminals from taking advantage of the regulatory gap to give Nigeria a bad name.

To further these efforts, the group is organizing the Nigeria Blockchain Alliance Conference, bringing together national institutions, private establishments, professionals, businesses, global partners and the general public. The conference is intended to create awareness, discourage crime, protect consumers and unlock new job and business opportunities in Nigeria.

Education and tech development

Another group that has collaborated with the Nigerian government in enhancing Blockchain development is the company Tech Hub.

Samuel Benedict, Founder of Tech Hub, tells Cointelegraph that his company’s objective is to provide Blockchain-driven solutions Nigeria and Africa at large. Benedict says:

“Our mission is to bring pragmatic Blockchain solutions to the doorstep of Africans, So far we are [receiving] a lot of positive feedback from the government and currently we are having series of meetings with the ministry of communication and technology.  We are also in negotiation with First Bank of Nigeria Plc in order to provide an [ATM] card system that will be linked to wallets for users to have direct fiat currency withdrawals.”

Benedict also notes that the Blockchain industry shows great promise in Nigeria and several startups are building services on Blockchain already. According to him, the larger Nigerian population needs more Blockchain education beyond just cryptocurrency and to learn how to stay away from possible scams.

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Dash Conference 2017 Brought News of Major Integration, Hints on Future

The digital currency Dash held its first conference this past weekend in the Oval Space in London. The conference was pre-funded by Dash’s treasury system, where projects are funded directly by the Blockchain. A portion of each block reward is withheld to fund such proposals, if the currency’s owners vote in favor.

Over 500 were in attendance and almost 1000 more watched live streams of the event. Presenters touched on all aspects of Dash, including the upcoming Evolution update. Wirex, a Bitcoin debit card company, announced they will be integrating Dash fully into their platform. According to Cash Alternative TV, the Wirex card will have full support for both PrivateSend and InstantSend:

Future plans

Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor gave a sneak peak of future partnerships that will be announced over the next few months, including:

  • Global brokerage service with free bank transfers
  • New exchange integrations
  • Dash will have access to 20 new fiat currencies
  • An additional ATM manufacturer
  • Integration with several large retailers
  • A healthcare integration

Few details were given, but Taylor mentioned that the community should expect press releases to be coming soon.

Keeping it low key

Ryan Taylor is notoriously stingy when it comes to anything that might resemble hype. Recently, he and founder Evan Duffield penned an open letter to the Dash community. In response to repeated proposals to use unallocated budget funds for marketing, Taylor stated:

“Any gains from this type of advertising would be temporary. As soon as the marketing is removed, the artificial influx of investments would deteriorate followed by the price. Wild price appreciation and crashes would actually detract from Dash’s utility as a currency and medium of value transfer, thus directly working against our stated mission and vision. We encourage the community to take a longer-term view to their investments and refrain from hyping the coin… there is plenty of hype inherent in the industry already.”

Taylor has consistently supported a relatively low-key approach as Dash continues to build its ecosystem and its Evolution update. It’s not surprising, then, that Dash Conference 2017 failed to reveal any earth-shattering announcements. Any major news in the future will likely come by means of a press release, rather than at a splashy conference.