Apparently no ATMs might be needed in Ukraine. A group of Bitcoin-enthusiasts in the country have made a real breakthrough in integrating Bitcoin with conventional payment systems. Btcu.biz (in Russian) has figured out a way for people to buy cryptocurrencies for fiat through one of the four thousand terminals spread across Ukraine (see: map).
The terminal network working with Btcu is owned by a Ukranian Bank called “Bank National Credit.” These terminals are located on virtually every corner in major cities, which would make it a lot more convenient and less time-consuming to acquire cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. At the time of writing, 1 bitcoin is equivalent to 8,384 hryvnia. According to the Bank National Credit’s website:
“The payment terminal business has started its development in Ukraine only a few years ago, and within a short period of time it has become an unexpendable sales channel for numerous service providers, and a convenient payment transaction tool for millions of users.”
To buy Bitcoin at one of these terminals, follow these steps:
- Select the btcu.biz fund replenishment service;
- Insert at least 50 hryvnia (commission is 1% or a minimum of 2 hryvnia);
- If you would like to receive an activation code, enter your mobile telephone number;
- Take and hold onto the receipt with the activation code;
- Enter the activation code on the btcu.biz website and your wallet address.
Now the coins will be automatically sent to your digital wallet.
The main advantage of using these terminals with btcu.biz is anonymity. These conversions do not require anyone to enter their personal information as all operations are completely faceless. The service also states that it is fully compliant with national regulations that require money transmitter services to be registered with the National Bank of Ukraine.
The company also assures users that their funds are safe as the company has an interest in developing the cryptocurrency space in Ukraine while market analysis and test-runs so far have determined that there is significant demand, especially given the current political and economic instability in the country and the national currency rapidly falling in value.
The goal of the Btcu.biz team is to make Bitcoin more accessible and readily available to everyone. They are welcoming everyone to try out the terminals and send feedback (contact info on their website) to improve user experience and the service as a whole.
Unfortunately, there is little information right now as far as user experience is concerned and Bitcoin buyers should always be cautious and do their homework before sending money. However, one reddit user under the name of telgerot in Ukraine has managed to try it out. He explained:
“So, just went down the street to the nearest ATM here in L'viv and tested it out. The ATM itself charged a 2 hryven ($0.17) fee for a transaction, and you can put up to 10000 hryven (~$844) per transaction. So obviously it's less advantageous with small sums regarding this fee, but the higher you go the less it matters.
I put in 58 hryven ($4.90) after ATM fee, and after getting my receipt and activating it on the site, I immediately got my BTC - 6.929 mBTC ($4.50) - minus the 0.1 mBTC ($0.65) mining fee, that looks to be about an 8% commission. Someone please check my math.
Not too bad. I think I'm currently the only "business" here that accepts bitcoins, and I offer a 10% discount on my services, I think it isn't too nasty, at least starting out. Like someone mentioned earlier, with time, there will be competition.”
The new method gives people in a country currently in turmoil a great way of hedging their savings by being able to buy Bitcoin 24/7. Additionaly, it’s certainly easier to integrate an already existing infrastructe rather than tediously installing thousands of Bitcoin ATMs one by one. So this may prove to be a real breakthrough in how people can acquire cryptocurrencies in countries where Bitcoin ATMs are a rarity or nonexistent. And finally it will be interesting to see whether such an a wide-scale implementation of BTC access points can boost Bitcoin awareness and facilitate mainstream adoption in the country.
Cointelegraph will continue to follow this story and keep you up to date as we receive more information.