The Difficulty of Getting Bitcoin to Catch on in Italy

Italy’sfirst 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 washdown the stuffed gnocchi.

The machine’s owner, Luca Dordolo, is often nearby to assistanyone 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, aswell as Italian.

Dordolo’s vision is to create an Italian hub for Bitcoin, andhis 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 Italyregarding Bitcoin, forcing him to operate in a grey area with which manyBitcoin entrepreneurs are familiar.

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

So, that was the limit he set.

Here is what BitLegal says about Italian legislation:

“The use of electroniccurrency 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, Italydoes not regulate Bitcoin use by private individuals, and currently theimplementation of initiatives concerning the use of electronic currencies lieswith the EU.”

Dordolo is not confident Italian law will catch up with thetechnology.

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

Cultural Obstacles

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

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

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