Last night, Israel’s first Bitcoin ATM was inaugurated at the Bitcoin Embassy in Tel Aviv. The ATM will be able to exchange bitcoins for the Israeli shekel and send bitcoins to one’s personal wallet.
It was only a matter of time before Israel got its ATM. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency have experienced high rates of adoption and advancement among Israelis relative to other countries. Apart from the embassy and ATM, there are numerous Bitcoin-related businesses, start-ups and exchanges. The country is at the forefront of such core technologies such like cryptography, web development and semiconductor processing. Several weeks ago, the first Bitcoin conference in Israel attracted over 300 attendees.
Ayal Segev of the Bitcoin EmBassy said:
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“I am proud that the embassy has made the first bitcoin vending machine available in Israel. This is part of our mission, to make bitcoins accessible to the general public.”
The advancement comes despite the country’s central bank having issued a thorough warning about the risks associated with Bitcoin and virtual currency, in a manner very similar to other major central financial authorities around the world.
Yet, proponents have not been turned off. Perhaps additional motivation is fueled by the population’s negative experience with the country’s banking/financial system, which is fairly tight and restrictive relative to those of Western nations. Financial activity is closely monitored and large transactions typically attract the attention of one’s bank and/or the authorities. Banking fees are high and difficult to avoid. True credit cards, in the sense of providing real, untethered credit, are virtually non-existent. The use of cash is thus far more common than in other advanced societies, despite the country’s edge when it comes to technology.
Furthermore, local proponents will argue that the current system has still failed when it comes to preventing fraud. Today, the former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, was convicted on charges of bribery for 500,000 NIS. Previously, he was indicted for fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents and tax evasion.