Upscale Johannesburg barbershop to house Africa's first bitcoin ATM

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As bitcoin ATMs begin to pop up in major cities across the globe, one entire continent is still untouched: Africa. If ZABitcoinATM’s plans pan out, however, this should be changing later this month. The company’s Lamassu-made ATM is scheduled to arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa, by the end of the week, and will be set up at bitcoin-accepting upscale barbershop Metroman in the Kyalami area.

IF ZABitcoin’s move is successful, additional ATMs may soon sprout up in other locations across the country, and perhaps even other regions in Africa. South Africa is relatively wealthy and cosmopolitan by comparison to many of its neighbors, and the launch of the country’s first bitcoin ATM in an upscale shop in major metropolitan area doesn’t exactly signal the beginning of the much anticipated push to bring bitcoin into the economically disenfranchised, “unbanked” population in the continent’s poorer regions. That said, it is a start.

As we’ve noted previously, Africa’s population faces some of the highest remittance fees in the world. A report published earlier this year by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) found that Western Union was charging as average fees of 12% to send $200 to locations in Africa, and characterized the fees as a “super-tax” on Africans sending money home. While the ZABitcoinATM project isn’t intended to reach that market, it might just create a foothold for bitcoin on the continent, allowing bitcoin use to grow.

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