With cabinet having approved a blockchain strategy and gaming operators pushing for regulators to give cryptocurrencies the green light, Malta appears ready for a Bitcoin revolution. 

But as anyone who has dabbled in Bitcoin knows, buying and withdrawing the digital currency can be a technical bridge too far for the average user. 

A local start-up is now hoping to change that, through a crowdfunding campaign to build and install Malta's first Bitcoin ATM. 

The ATM would allow users to buy and sell Bitcoin within minutes, without having to sign up for an online exchange or tie yourself in technical knots online. 

Bitcoin is a digital, decentralised currency distinct from the mainstream banking system and free from government control. It is run on blockchain technology - a public ledger that records all transactions and which, due to its decentralised nature, cannot be hacked or corrupted.

One Bitcoin is currently worth almost €2,500, with the cryptocurrency's value having skyrocketed in recent months on the back of increased demand.

ATM plans

 “We believe in Bitcoin’s potential and decided to invest time and effort in bringing the first Bitcoin ATM to Malta in order to unleash these opportunities to individuals, and society as a whole,” said Leon Siegmund. 

Mr Siegmund is a co-founder of Ivaja, a local start-up focused on making Malta a Bitcoin island.  The firm says it needs to raise $6,000 (€5,100) to cover expenses related to the ATM launch, with the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign set to expire in 32 days' time. 

Ivaja's co-founders work on their ATM plans. Photo: IvajaIvaja's co-founders work on their ATM plans. Photo: Ivaja

If the company raises extra money, it plans on installing a second ATM. If it fails to reach its $6,000 target, Ivaja will try fill the funding gap. 

"We've already identified a few potential locations, but it's too early to discuss them now," Mr Siegmund told Times of Malta. "What I can say is that it will either be in Valletta or in Sliema." 

If Ivaya's mission is successful, Malta will join a growing number of countries which provide ATM facilities for Bitcoin users, with cryptocurrency ATMs starting to make inroads in several countries across the world. There are currently an estimated 800 Bitcoin ATMs across the United States. Earlier this year, Japan recognised the currency as a legal means of payment. 

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