Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in touch via Twitter or Google+.
BTC China, until recently the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, has rolled out an ATM Web app called Picasso that lets you sell Bitcoins in return for cold hard cash — but both parties have to be physically present in order to carry out the exchange.
At first glance, this is a highly inconvenient arrangement. A BTC China spokesperson tells TNW that because it isn’t a legal financial institution, it cannot transfer money to bank accounts directly — and in order to circumvent that, the exchange between buyer and seller has to be a physical payment of cash.
The move looks likely to be a response to China’s recent crackdown on Bitcoin, which saw a few local Bitcoin exchanges being forced to terminate yuan settlements after they were cut off by banks. Without the availability of payment processing, the only way to buy Bitcoin in yuan would be with cash. Though BTC China didn’t receive any notification that its banking and clearing services would be terminated, by launching the ATM Web app and requiring exchanges to be made in person in cash, it’s clearly looking to minimize the potential impact of government rules covering digital currencies.
Yet it’s not only about yuan settlements, as BTC China’s Picasso app supports all major currencies. There are also other benefits to trading offline via the app, mainly for those looking for a more straightforward experience. Traditionally, in order to deposit cash for Bitcoin, you have to find a physical Bitcoin ATM where you insert the cash, after which the Bitcoins will be deposited into your mobile wallet. Now, you can purchase the Bitcoin directly from the seller and avoid the hassle of registering and authenticating the processes on a Bitcoin exchange.
It also ensures that sellers can receive the money on the spot after transferring their Bitcoins. Picasso even gives sellers another advantage: they can set their own profit margins. On the other hand, you can’t control the rate in a typical Bitcoin exchange.
To use Picasso ATM, you have to sign up for a BTC China account, deposit Bitcoins into your Picasso mobile wallet, then carry out the trades accordingly.
However, taking Bitcoin trading offline removes the sense of anonymity that the cryptocurrency traditionally brings. This could mean that the Bitcoin scene in China is set to undergo a transformation, with the currency taking on a different role from what it currently looks like now.
Headline image via Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images
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