Hong Kong-based bitcoin marketplace Asia Nexgen Bitcoin Exchange (ANXBTC) announced on February 23 in a press release that it plans to launch an offline bitcoin store on February 28 in Hong Kong.
ANXBTC CEO Lo Ken-bon told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, “The biggest issue people have right now is buying bitcoins. So far, people have to put money in and trade it through an online exchange. Now, you can walk into the store, hand over your cash, and send the bitcoins to your digital wallet.”
Those who buy bitcoins at the to-be-launched store must present proper documentation verifying identity and physical address to be cleared of money laundering, as required by the office of Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
ANXBTC is not the only company that is jumping on the bitcoin bandwagon. Other companies such as Bitcoin Group HK and the Hong Kong Bitcoin ATM are also offering offline services. Bitcoin Group HK is installing two ATMs imported from Portugal at the International Finance Centre and Wanchai Computer Centre, and Hong Kong Bitcoin ATM is setting up a machine in MongKok.
The US-based ATM manufacturer Robocoin also plans to set up its second bitcoin vending machine in Hong Kong in January, following the first one launched in Canada, but its plans have been put aside for undisclosed reasons.
The number of offline retail vendors trading in bitcoin is expected to rise, but its legitimacy remains still in a gray area.
A source related to the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department said that discussions were being held as to which government department would be in control of overseeing bitcoin trade activity.