Taipei, Jan. 6 (CNA) The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) will not allow the installation of any Bitcoin ATMs in Taiwan because the virtual currency has yet to be recognized as a legal currency, the country's top financial regulator said Monday.
The commission was responding to an online media report that Las Vegas-based cash machine maker Robocoin is planning to install Bitcoin ATMs in Hong Kong and Taiwan later this month as part of its global expansion plan.
Robocoin CEO Jordan Kelley told the technology website TechCrunch that bitcoin demand in Asia is amazing.
"We have many Asian countries seeking to enhance consumer capability to buy and sell bitcoin securely and safely," Kelley said.
When asked to comment on the report, FSC Chairman Tseng Ming-chung said the Central Bank of the Republic of China (CBC) has warned against financial institutions and the public using bitcoin as means of payment because it is not a currency.
The FSC shares the central bank's stance, Tseng said, agreeing that bitcoin has yet to be recognized as a currency.
Any company wanting to install a Bitcoin ATM in Taiwan would require the FSC's approval, and the commission would not likely give the green light to such a move, Tseng said.
"If any Bitcoin ATM is illegally installed in Taiwan, the FSC will remove or demolish it," Tseng added.
Bitcoin emerged in 2009 as a low-cost way of sending money electronically without third parties. It is not controlled by any country or banking authority.
The digital currency, which exists as software, is created by solving complex tasks embedded in a program through a process called mining.
There are currently more than 11 million bitcoins in circulation. They can be bought and sold via online exchanges or "mined" using computers, according to a report in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
Taiwan's central bank said in a recent statement that Bitcoin is a highly speculative virtual product that lacks a mechanism to protect transactions.
It has traded in a range of US$455 to US$1,094 over the last 30 days on the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox exchange after trading at around US$14 a year ago, according to bitcoincharts.com.
The world's first Bitcoin ATM was installed by Robocoin in a Vancouver coffee shop in October.
The second one is likely to appear in Hong Kong soon, according to Robocoin executives.
(By Wu Ching-chun and Sofia Wu)