UNLOCK had previously covered a story about the first Bitcoin ATM to be launched in the region in Dubai. The story which was published on March 20th talked about how Mr. Anhad Dhingra, CEO of Amhora had announced the launching of the first Bitcoin ATM in the region at Rixos Premium Hotel in JBR Dubai.
The next day the ATM was de-commissioned by the Dubai Police. This was confirmed in a tweet by Amhora which stated, “After a brief run-in with the law enforcement yesterday, we have temporarily put-off the ATM from its location. Working closely with the relevant authorities to reinstate it after we fulfill all AML/KYC (Know your customer) obligations”
The main reason is that people were able to buy Bitcoin using cash and hence no need to go through a KYC process. At the moment there are no other cash Bitcoin ATMs in the UAE, while there are some prototypes that banks are showcasing that allow the purchase of Bitcoin by using credit cards or debit cards. This is different than what was on offer from Amhora.
UNLOCK spoke with Anhad to understand clearly what went wrong and why given the fact that Amhora stated they were licensed by Dubai Economic Department the police stopped it.
As Anhad explained, “Yes we have stopped the ATM as we are re-writing our KYC software for its operation. Although we had a license from DED to operate an ATM service, Bitcoin regulation as a cryptocurrency is fuzzy in the UAE. It is neither legal nor illegal, so it is a grey area. As such after we finalize our KYC software we will be discussing with DED, police and other authorities the licensing aspect again.”
So it seems that again the UAE is still not sure about how to deal with the cryptocurrency debacle and although strong on blockchain, they have yet to define their stance on crypto currencies.