- Moon Zebra launched Malta’s first two-way Bitcoin ATM at an event on Tuesday evening.
- “The Bitcoin ATM lets people get involved with the Bitcoin movement by transferring their cash into the cryptocurrency. For us, that is a step in the right direction, and it’s a pretty exciting step,” said Moon Zebra’s Head of Sales and Marketing Leon Siegmund in an exclusive interview with BitStarz.
- Malta is a great example of how – with the right mentality and regulation – crypto firms can flourish and consumers can be protected.
Malta got its first official two-way crypto ATM on Tuesday evening. Moon Zebra is a local start-up with deep roots in the Maltese crypto industry. It is made up of four crypto enthusiasts, all of which are set on helping Bitcoin become mainstream through ease of access and raising awareness. We managed to get an exclusive interview with Moon Zebra’s very own Leon Siegmund – Head of Sales and Marketing – who was more than happy to talk us through what Moon Zebra is up to.
So, what made you decide to install two-way crypto ATMs in Malta?
We are a bunch of people who are passionate about Bitcoin and the whole idea behind it. For Bitcoin to become widely accepted, people need to contribute, and for us we were already contributing in the form of the Bitcoin Club, but we wanted to do more. We aren’t good enough at writing code to contribute to the core code – we will leave that to the pros – but we know marketing and security, so we decided to help bring crypto to the masses in the form of crypto ATMs.
Malta is a platform perfect to showcase and make an example for Bitcoin adoption globally with merchants and users. To help unify the bond between merchants and users – as well as push further adoption of Bitcoin – we installed the ATM. The Bitcoin ATM lets people get involved with the Bitcoin movement by transferring their cash into the cryptocurrency. For us, that is a step in the right direction, and it’s a pretty exciting step – especially for people who are using it for the first time. It’s exhilarating to send your first transaction to the Bitcoin network, and your heart rate really picks up while you’re waiting for it to get confirmed.
Have you been involved in the process of designing the regulatory framework and the related bills? What was it like working on these projects and helping to create these crypto friendly measures that potentially impact the world
I was closely in touch with some of the advisors such as Steve Tendon, Chris Vassallo and the lawyers over the past two years. It was definitely an exciting period to follow the process and understand the different perspectives. However, as Silvio Schembri mentioned at a recent press conference, the bills are the starting point of a learning curve. I personally always advocated to understand the technology first before trying to regulate anything. The danger is that it backfires and we have the same situation we saw in New York in 2014.
For example, in the US, Washington made the regulatory process almost impossible for smaller companies without the man power. This forced many of them to move to other states where they had slightly more relaxed laws. The people involved in Malta always tried to make clear that we want to prevent this from happening here by creating a harmonious set of laws and regulations that protect consumers, while giving businesses a certain degree of leeway and flexibility. This is a great opportunity for Malta to set an example to the world of how regulation can be done in a way that helps the industry flourish.
We will have to see if promises are kept or if the bills are just benefiting small interest groups and don’t bring any advantage to consumers and startups. One thing that will help the industry as a whole is an official acceptance of Bitcoin as a currency in Malta. Once one country does it, the rest should follow.
What made you decide to put your first ATM in Zanzi Homes Sliema?
We have a great relationship with Steve Merceica – Zanzi Homes CEO – and he sees the true potential of cryptocurrencies – not to mention he is a visionary in his industry. Zanzi are already doing a lot of research into blockchain technology and allowing their customers to pay agent fees in Bitcoin, so naturally putting our first Bitcoin ATM in a Zanzi branch was an obvious move. In fact, they reached out to us and asked if we would like to use their stunning office; the offer was too good to refuse!
It’s a big question, but where do you see Moon Zebra in five years’ time?
A lot can happen in five years, Bitcoin will probably be around $200,000 – maybe even higher. So far, we are planning to carry on doing what we have done – helping people to join the crypto revolution in a safe and simplistic way. We are working on a handful of partnerships for the company and there are a few projects in the pipeline. In an ideal world I would love to see Moon Zebra as one of the leading brands for safe use of crypto tokens in five years’ time.
You probably can’t say too much on this, but what is the next step for Moon Zebra?
I can’t really comment on the next steps for Moon Zebra, but what I can say is that we are going to see how demand and usage goes for the current Bitcoin ATMs and we will go from there. I would love to see a network of these ATMs around the whole island, but we are taking baby steps. I want there to be so many on the island that you could stack them on top of each other and reach the moon.
The Moon Zebra launch event looked awesome, how was it?
The launch event on Tuesday evening was a great event, we even got a handful of people using the ATM which is a huge bonus. We basically invited all of our investors, early adopters, and a bunch of people from the Bitcoin Club to join us and celebrate this historic moment. It was really nice to see all these people who are driven and united by the single vision of making the world a freer, simpler, and better place discussing Bitcoin and its future.
Have you considered creating partnerships with banks and other financial institutions to place your ATMs in their branches?
That’s a good question because Banks are essential to make the transition smooth. However, in reality, they seem to be wary if not afraid of the disruptive potential of crypto. I can fully understand if a banker who worked his whole live and is waiting to retire is not super open to question his fundamentals. And also this system is just super stuck in the past and innovation will take time. However, Bitcoin is unstoppable, due to its technical features and the market power behind it. I’d love to see banks adopting crypto and upgrading existing ATMs and we’d be happy to help, but I think it will be the last thing that will happen. The good thing though is that cryptocurrency can work completely independent from banks.
For now, we have a lot of interest from a handful of local financial advisory firms. These are the perfect places for these types of ATMs to be located. Financial planning and advisory firms are torn between traditional regulated markets and the newer, slightly more risky crypto markets and if they capitalize on this opportunity by offering both worlds to their clients, there is the potential to revolutionize the whole financial investment industry as well.
Finally, how easy is it to use your Bitcoin ATM?
The crypto world requires to be informed and we want to help people to make their experience absolutely safe. To start, you can turn your paper cash into a digital asset in three clicks, it’s really that simple.
Even if you don’t have a digital wallet, you can still get your hands on Bitcoin. The machine will create your very own paper wallet and print it out. It is so much simpler than signing up to an exchange, completing KYC processes, inputting your card details, figuring out how the exchange works, and what everything means, and then transferring funds to a cold wallet. The Bitcoin ATM takes care of these confusing and difficult processes to an extent. However we need to address that a safe process is only possible if the user follows the right procedures. If the highest standards in terms of security are fulfilled you can sit back and relax – just enjoy your Bitcoin
The future for Bitcoin and crypto adoption in Malta looks very promising thanks to legal framework and legislation progress. For more information about the state of cryptocurrency in Malta, plus the Bitcoin ATM and Moon Zebra’s next ventures, head over to their website. Stay tuned to the BitStarz Blog for more exclusive interviews with innovative and leading minds – as we’re here to bring you the inside scoop!