We have seen physical Bitcoin exchanges pop up in a few countries already. Although some companies mainly use physical locations for consultation services, things are a bit different with Mexico’s Bitlem exchange. The company actually allows customers to buy and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum at a physical location in the heart of Mexico City. It’s an interesting concept, especially in a country where financial hardship has become the new normal.
Bitlem Embarks on a new Venture
Most people think of cryptocurrency exchanges as online platforms only. In most cases, consumers have to sign up with a website, send in documents to verify their identity, and wire money to said company in exchange for cryptocurrency. It is an incredibly cumbersome process which most people don’t like one bit. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many alternatives in most countries.
Having said that, there are consumers who would like to enter a building and buy Bitcoin or Ethereum over the counter. Such locations do exist in certain parts of the world, but Mexico didn’t have such a venture until last week. Local exchange Bitlem has changed the game in this regard, even though it remains to be seen whether its physical exchange will help more people warm up to cryptocurrency moving forward.
The new office is located in the center of Mexico City. Bitlemoon SA, or Bitlem, is the first local exchange to provide physical purchase opportunities for cryptocurrencies. A total of ten different currencies are supported at the location, which can be bought and sold in exchange for Mexican pesos. What is rather remarkable is how this location is in close proximity to the Mexico Stock Exchange. Intertwining traditional finance with cryptocurrency in such a way will have some interesting consequences.
Miren lo que me encontré, un exchange de criptodivisas en efectivo en el D.F. (cobran el 5% de fee) #bitcoin #eth #Mexico @bitlemoficial pic.twitter.com/nYPfUUo783
— Mr. Wolf (@pendragonn) September 11, 2017
This intriguing precedent will surely send shockwaves throughout Mexico. The country has been dealing with financial hardship for quite some time now, but things may finally start turning around when cryptocurrencies become more common. It is a major challenge to open a physical Bitcoin exchange; that much is evident. The company aims to ensure Bitcoin will attain a level of trust and usability by the general population. Doing business in a face-to-face manner will certainly instill a lot more trust, to say the least.
Moreover, this office can also serve as a way to provide personal customer support to Bitlem’s users. Bithumb in South Korea has taken similar steps in this regard, as the company acknowledges there is a demand for personalized services taking place in a brick-and-mortar location. One downside to Bitlem’s physical location is that customers will pay a 5% fee on every purchase, which is on par with most cryptocurrency ATMs these days.
It is important to keep in mind Mexico has no active cryptocurrency guidelines as of right now. Dealing with this “virtual money” is still something consumers need to be wary of, as they are not protected whatsoever by the government. With the opening of this new physical location, it is expected the country’s central bank will pay closer attention to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Whether or not that is a good thing remains to be determined. If other countries are an example, Bitcoin will be scrutinized in Mexico very soon.