Venezuela, for all its troubles, is making a strong push to become a leading “crypto state”— so much so that even its socialist government is fully embracing Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Now, the country’s largest retail chain, Traki—already a pioneer within the country in terms of adopting crypto as a means of payment—is going yet another step further.
The Venezuelan department store announced on Thursday that CriptoTraki—a division of the chain that’s in charge of all things crypto for the business—successfully installed a Bitcoin ATM in one of its stores. The Bitcoin ATM went live on Friday.
The crypto ATM is located at a Traki store in the El Recreo mall and will be managed by the Venezuelan exchange platform VEINTE (Venezolana de Intercambios). The machine, however, is currently only unidirectional—meaning that, right now, customers can only buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from the machine, but are not yet able to trade them for cash.
Hoy se hace historia con esta apertura al público del primer #CajeroCripto En @TRAKIenganchate El Recreo ya puedes comprar fácilmente #Bitcoin #DASH Gracias @Criptotrakivzla @Veinte_ven Compra ya!!! #4Oct pic.twitter.com/aOr7oAGKST
— Alejandro Fernandes (@alefcripto) October 4, 2019
The ATM supports Bitcoin and Dash, but it only accepts U.S. dollars as fiat currency. It may sound curious that a Venezuelan ATM would only accept U.S. dollars, and not, say, Venezuela’s national currency, the sovereign bolivar. But, in reality, not even standard ATMs in the country currently hold cash in bolivars.
According to an interview shared by Union Radio, the crypto ATM is in its first stage of implementation, which will create the necessary conditions so that in the future, users can sell their tokens in exchange for dollars and euros (again, no mention of bolivars).
This new machine joins the two Bitcoin ATMs that are already in operation in Venezuela, according to Coin ATM Radar, and are managed by the Colombian group Panda BTM. The first one was recently opened at a small travel agency in the border with Colombia, and the second one is located in Merida State.
After the announcement, CriptoTraki CEO Maiker Gomez pointed out that although Traki is quite interested in blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies can also be useful for its clients since they are censorship-resistant and not prone to financial manipulation.
"It is a giant step, because it is a much faster process to acquire cryptocurrencies here in Venezuela. They can be a valuable safeguard against the devaluation of the Venezuelan currency and can also be used as a form of payment,” Gomez told Union Radio.
Gomez also said Traki is working to install NFC-powered, point-of-sale systems, although he did not clarify whether they will be interconnected with the national banking network, which has been the topic of much discussion lately, of if these too will incorporate cryptocurrency, such as the platforms recently installed through a partnership with PundiX.