The Country’s First BTM Installed in Kazakhstan
Kazakh entrepreneur and bitcoin enthusiast Kanat Amrenov hold ForkLog he had installed the first BTM in Kazakhstan. He also intends to launch local cryptocurrency exchange.
Despite the fact that Kazakhstan is among ten largest countries in the world, it was not seen on the bitcoin world map until now. However, local enthusiasts gradually change the situation as more and more locals find out about advantages of cryptocurrency.
Leading bitcoin popularization is the First Bitcoin Center of Kazakshan. Boris Komarov, the head of the center, believes that teaching and consulting people is a good option, given that most of them are not well-educated.
“Half of the country has no internet access. One third of the population uses internet occasionally. Unfortunately, that is not enough to have finger on the pulse of technologies and their real-life implementation. There are individuals who carry out mining, or are engaged in bitcoin. However, there is no tidal wave of those interested. Apart from fine education, citizens of Kazakhstan also lack enthusiasm,” he says.
According to the available statistics, less than 0.1% of Kazakhs have ever searched bitcoin-related data on the web. However, there certainly are some cryptocurrency there. There are even some merchants accepting bitcoin, including online store Satam. It has been accepting bitcoins for eighteen months.
“Customers were very positive about the opportunity of paying with bitcoins. In this regard we certainly have a market advantage. It makes us trendy,” Denis Rulkov of Satam says.
Bitcoin merchants of Kazakhstan have not had any problems with local authorities. However, the government is quite cautious about cryptocurrencies. Local media discussed possible ban of bitcoin back in 2014.
“Bitcoin is beyond regulation in legal terms, however, financial institutions are prohibited to deal with cryptocurrency. Generally speaking, Kazakh authorities follow Russia in this regard. Most probably, whatever Russia decides on the matter will be copypasted in Kazakhstan,” Komarov says.
The National Bank of Kazakhstan also has no certain position as to cryptocurrencies.
“It is a complicated issue. Some say that bitcoin is money laundering itself, which makes it pure evil. So they ban it. Others say, like, let’s see where it goes. We have no official position in this regard as yet. Whether it is a Ponzi scheme or not, I believe there will be some official response,” Kairat Kelimbetov, then-head of the National Bank of Kazakhstan told earlier this year.
However, he resigned this Novermber, so now it is up to the new managers of the National Bank to decide.
Local ministry of finance, in its turn, apprehends that bitcoin could pose a threat to the country’s banking system. Ruslan Dalenov, vice minister for the department, assumes that should bitcoin become a basic system for major corporations in the future, bankers could just lose their jobs. In October 2014, Erlan Ashykbekov, head of department for payment systems development and management at the National Bank of Kazakhstan, stated that official financial institutions in the country are prohibited to use bitcoin for settlements.
BTM and the Exchange
However, this official position is rather a recommendation incapable of hindering enthusiasts. Bitcoin community of Kazakhstan picks up steam. Installation of the country’s first BTM immediately became a milestone in its history.
The machine is located in Almaty’s major mall Ritz built in the most crowded district of the city. According to Kanat Amrenov, the BTM’s owner, formally it does not violate any law:
“I didn’t speak with the regulators so far. I registered as a private entrepreneur, and, as far as I know, I don’t violate any law. I perform cash logistics, deposit cash as a revenue, and even pay taxes equal to 3% of the turnover in compliance with the tax laws. We shall see reaction of the regulators,” he says.
BTM, however, is not his prominent field of activities. Amrenov’s plans are much more ambitious, considering they include lauch of a cryptocurrency exchange for Kazakshtan and the Central Asia.
“We were among the first in Kazakhstan to get interested in cryptocurrencies. I used to be the first regular member of the Bitcoin Foundation from Kazakhstan. Then Mt.Gox failed, and I lost several thousands of coins. It was essentially everything I had. Also I ran a mining pool at pool.enso.kz. It was the time when everyone was mining with graphics card and first ASIC’s. I had to dissolve it. There is no reason for running a 700 Gh/s pool now.
“A year ago I quit from a bank. Now I’m working in two directions. First, I have plans of establishing a non-profit to promulgate the idea. It’s a kind of local Bitcoin Foundation. I favor ties with my Ukrainian and Russian peers who had already established similar non-profits. The working title for the project is Kazakhstan Bitcoin Decentral. Second, I intend to establish a cryotocurrency exchange for Kazakhstan and the Central Asia. For now, I’m in the search for money. I plan to launch it next spring. The exchange will be hosted at enso.kz,” he stated.
ForkLog wishes all the best to bitcoin enthusiasts from Kazakhstan.
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