Cryptocurrency Moves Into the Skeptical Balkans

ALBVISION Ltd., headquartered in Kosovo, has introduced the territory’s first bitcoin ATM to the city of Pristina. The company will subsequently be introducing ATMs to capital cities Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, and Tirana, Albania. Initially, the ATM will only transact in bitcoin, but ALBVISION hopes to eventually support at least 10 other virtual currencies.

“This ATM is expected to offer some of the most widely used virtual currencies like Ether, Dash, Bitcoin, Doge, and LiteCoin. Kosovo joins the list of 57 world states operating a virtual currency ATM.”

ALBVISION stated that the demand for cryptocurrencies has increased in both Kosovo and Albania despite recent warnings from their respective central banks regarding cryptocurrency use. On July 1, 2017, the Central Bank of the Republic of Kosovo released a statement informing the general public that “there is no institution in the Republic of Kosovo that can guarantee the reimbursement of any money lost to virtual currency investments.”

In addition, on July 13, 2017, the Bank of Albania highlighted associated risks and expressed that it had “not licensed any financial entity” conducting business with virtual currencies. As a result, the bank stated that companies conducting business with virtual currencies don’t fall under the jurisdiction of the regulatory and supervisory framework of the Bank of Albania.

“Given the absence of rules that would discipline the financial activity and their supervision, the activity of these entities is characterized by a considerable risk and uncertainty, and does not guarantee the protection of customers against investment loss. From this point of view, the involvement in this kind of activity remains an individual responsibility of the person that engages in it.”

Nevertheless, Kosovo joins many other locations in a world that now boasts an estimated 1375 total bitcoin ATMs according to Coin ATM Radar. With the popularity of alternative payment systems gaining more traction every day, it doesn’t look like the virtual currency surge will be slowing down anytime soon. However, due to uncertainty, central banks will continue to look at virtual currencies and related businesses with scrutiny, even if they do create new market opportunities for their respective economies.