Zimbabwe’s Bitcoin ATM Runs out of Money
Zimbabwe has been facing a currency crisis for a while now. It is a country that has no currency of its own and ATMs have been rendered useless. In this situation, the Golix Bitcoin ATM came as a rescuer when it was introduced to Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. It was viewed as a way for faster cash transfers and also for cash availability. However, now Golix itself has been rendered unused and redundant.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe issued a ban on cryptocurrencies in May of this year and therefore ruined Golix’s plan. Golix is Zimbabwe’s biggest cryptocurrency and it had planned to bring digital currency to the mainstream and also popularize its Bitcoin ATM. The bank put the ban on cryptocurrencies hardly four weeks after the ATM was announced.
As a result, today, the ATM machine neither dispenses any cash nor facilitates any trade, however, it still exists at the Golix offices in central Harare.
Nhlalwenhle Ngwenya, Golix’s spokesperson did not comment on any operational issues and stated that these matters were under litigation and investigation. Golix is also challenging the ban imposed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe but the high court is still pending on the decision. However, when the ban had not yet been imposed, Ngwenya explained the need for such an ATM back in April,
After realizing that the public is still struggling to understand or in some cases access bitcoin, we felt that the bitcoin ATM would be a huge and necessary step towards engaging people on how they can use cryptocurrencies for their daily business.
The Bitcoin ATM has often been termed as the exchange’s crowning moment since it became the country’s main cryptocurrency exchange with only a few trades. However, by the time the ban was imposed in May, the exchange had traded more than $20 million worth of Bitcoin. According to reports, the exchange’s revenue increased by 6200 percent to $158,000 at the end of 2017. About 50,000 people actively traded Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dash and Ethereum on the platform in May, compared to only a few dozen customers a couple of years ago. Things were taking an upward turn until the Reserve Bank imposed a ban.
The Golix office is still open today despite the ban, with only a little staff working. They are still surviving with a string only because of their expansion plans across Africa and in anticipation of a favorable court judgment against the Reserve Bank. While the hearing date for the case is yet to be set, the exchange is continuously talking about the new GLX token on Social Media and also on the sidelines talking about investors and repaying them in both cash and cryptocurrency since the exchange’s bank accounts were frozen when the ban came into play in May.
Ngwenya did not discuss this matter and said that the court’s decision was pending. However some investors are stating concerns saying,
I have had no explanation besides an email saying they (Golix) will provide updates… and they have been quiet since.
It seems like right now the court’s decision is what will decide the future of cryptocurrency, Golix as well as the country’s financial and economic system that is already undergoing a severe crisis.