The Difficulty of Getting Bitcoin to Catch on in Italy

Italy’s first Bitcoin ATM was a Lamassu machine, installed in Udine, a northeastern city nestled between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea.

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The Difficulty of Getting Bitcoin to Catch on in Italy

Italy’s first Bitcoin ATM was a Lamassu machine, installed in Udine, a northeastern city nestled between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea.

That’s wine country, and you would need plenty of it to wash down the stuffed gnocchi.

The machine’s owner, Luca Dordolo, is often nearby to assist anyone who needs help using the machine (it’s located in the hall of his family’s business). He’s even had the interface translated into the local Friulian language, as well as Italian.

Dordolo’s vision is to create an Italian hub for Bitcoin, and his next step at this point is to install more machines around the country.

Obstacles, both legal and cultural, are making this difficult, though.

Legal Obstacles

First, Dordolo laments the “lack of relevant legislation” in Italy regarding Bitcoin, forcing him to operate in a grey area with which many Bitcoin entrepreneurs are familiar.

Before buying that first Lamassu ATM, Dordolo said he had a pool of attorneys and legal experts advise him on what he could and could not do. Italy, they told him, does not regulate Bitcoin itself, nor are there any know-your-customer regulations, but any transactions above 999.99 EUR need to be reported.

So, that was the limit he set.

Here is what BitLegal says about Italian legislation:

“The use of electronic currency is restricted to banks and electronic money institutions — that is, private legal entities duly authorized and registered by the Central Bank of Italy. Aside from these developments, Italy does not regulate Bitcoin use by private individuals, and currently the implementation of initiatives concerning the use of electronic currencies lies with the EU.”

Dordolo is not confident Italian law will catch up with the technology.

“Banca d'Italia is studying the [Bitcoin] phenomenon, and perhaps — if they were fast — in 10-20 years we could have a law on it.”

Cultural Obstacles

Dealing with murky Italian laws is one thing. Dealing with local perception is something else entirely, Dordolo said.

“In Italy, we are at the beginning of Bitcoin’s spreading among the population. There is an interesting Bitcoin community [in Italy], but it is still very hard to explain to Italian people the real value that Bitcoin creates in the economy and the job opportunities it creates.
This is because of misinformation by the national media that actually regard it as a scam or worst as associated with criminal deeds.
Even the local Bitcoin Foundation is not as active as it should be, so whatever can move this situation is welcome.” 


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