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Authorities in Macau have struck a middle ground on the use of China UnionPay card swiping devices in jewelry and pawnshops on casino property. Contrary to earlier fears, the government isn’t requiring these shops to stop processing transactions via their UnionPay devices but the shops are no longer eligible to apply for new terminals. The government will also conduct a three- to four-month appraisal of the new landscape and isn’t ruling out the possibility of removing all UnionPay devices from casino shops should the government not like what it finds.

The shops had enjoyed a lucrative sideline by allowing gamblers to purchase luxury goods via their UnionPay cards, then immediately exchange the goods for cash minus a commission. The switcheroo allowed gamblers to circumvent restrictions on taking money out of China. However, some budding entrepreneurs pushed the game too far, employing mobile swiping devices that allowed Macau gamblers to make direct withdrawals via their UnionPay cards while the transactions would be recorded as if they were taking place on the mainland.

Meanwhile, the company that just installed Macau’s first Bitcoin ‘ATM’ insists the timing has nothing to do with the UnionPay crackdown. On Friday, Hong Kong-based Bitcoinnect Ltd. installed a Genesis1 Bitcoin ATM/vending kiosk in a jewelry shop in the lobby of the Sanda Macao casino. But by Monday, the machine had been moved to a pawnshop across from Casino L’Arc, which operates under an SJM Holdings license.

Bitcoinnect CEO Jase Leung told GGRAsia the move was necessary because the WiFi connection at the Sands Macao shop “was a bit unstable” and it would take the local telecom provider up to a month to install a fixed line. Leung said he wasn’t aware if the shop had alerted Sands Macao as to its new piece of technology, while Sands China claimed to have had “no knowledge” of any such machine on its premises.

Macau’s financial watchdogs issued a statement last week to the effect that Bitcoin isn’t legal tender in the special administration region, nor is the virtual currency subject to supervision by the AMCM. Leung took this as “a friendly reminder” that the kiosk “could not be referred to as an ATM or the operation of it regarded as a credit institution.”


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This entry was posted on June 26, 2014 by and tagged .

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