Home
 
Choose Your City
Change City

Romania expanding use of bitcoin

In a well-lit office with red window frames in downtown Bucharest, Romania's first bitcoin ATM attracts many who until it opened in May had to buy or sell the digital currency face-to-face or through wire transfers.

George Rotariu uses the first bitcoin ATM in downtown Bucharest June 27, 2014. Credit: Reuters George Rotariu uses the first bitcoin ATM in downtown Bucharest June 27, 2014.
Credit: Reuters

In a well-lit office with red window frames in downtown Bucharest, Romania's first bitcoin ATM attracts many who until it opened in May had to buy or sell the digital currency face-to-face or through wire transfers.

The interest in bitcoin in Romania stands out in a region where national currencies are widely seen as poor substitutes for the euro.

Tech-savvy and still deeply distrustful of officialdom 25 years after the end of communism, many Romanians are unfazed by warnings about the cryptocurrency.

RelatedArticles

In the western town of Oradea, 370 miles (595 km) away from the capital, the first bitcoin exchange in the country has drawn more than 2,000 clients in the seven months since it opened, with transactions totaling 5.12 million lei ($1.57 million).

But Romania ranks as the European Union's second-poorest state and among the weakest in collecting taxes and fighting fraud, making it poorly equipped to manage the bitcoin.

Bitcoin is still an infant in Europe relative to the United States, where hundreds of start-ups backed by some Wall Street traders and venture capitalists have propelled consumer and media interest. Activity in virtual currencies around Europe is concentrated in London, Amsterdam and Berlin.

Romanian entrepreneurs envision a future where the bitcoin is as common as grocery shopping. But they say it needs a legal framework to gain credibility.

"It is an industry in its early stages," said George Rotariu, who opened the ATM in Bucharest in collaboration with Vancouver-based Bitcoiniacs and plans to expand to more Romanian cities. "You need a legislative framework to supply services or have a business in this field," he said.

"We groped around in the legislation and interpreted some policies," said Horea Vuscan, a local politician who owns the Oradea bitcoin operator BTCXchange.

"We are now in talks with officials because I don't know where we fit in, a bourse, bank, money transfer firm."

Bitcoin is stored entirely on computers, not backed by any government or central bank. It lets owners hold, trade and move money from place to place almost as cheaply as sending email.

 
Consider AlsoFurther Articles