U.S. company Athena intends to supply El Salvador’s new crypto-based economy with 1500 Bitcoin ATMs, a company representative has confirmed.
The rollout will start small, trialing a few dozen machines to establish a business model. The Chicago headquartered firm plans to invest more than $1 million to install cryptocurrency ATMs, targeting regions where residents receive remittances from abroad.
Along with installing the new machines it will also hire staff and open an office to carry out operations in El Salvador.
Athena currently operates just two ATMs of this type in El Salvador, one at El Zonte beach as part of an experiment called “Bitcoin Beach” aimed at making the town one of the world's first crypto economies, and the other in El Tunco, according to CNN.
Athena's director for Latin America, Matias Goldenhörn, told Reuters that Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele had “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.”
On June 17, Athena posted about its plans to expand in the country in the wake of lawmakers passing a bill to make Bitcoin legal tender. The company tagged President Bukele asking if a thousand machines would be enough. He responded he had set his target on a larger figure.
Goldenhörn stated that the business model is likely to be different from that in the U.S., which currently has a total of 19,325 BTC ATMs according to Coinatmradar.
"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,"
El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption plan has already experienced pushback from the World Bank, which refused to assist the country in its transition, citing “the environmental and transparency shortcomings” associated with the digital asset.
On June 22, Cointelegraph reported that an opposing political party filed a lawsuit alleging the new Bitcoin law could be unconstitutional and harmful to the country.