The oldest building in the world to feature a Bitcoin ATM, which has been shut down for the last 15 months (Credits: Devon Live/BPM MEDIA)

Patrons who have been turning up to buy cryptocurrency at a Devon pub have had to be turned away following new rules from regulators.

The disappointed Bitcoin devotees had previously used a hyper-modern Bitcoin ATM-style machine at the olde worlde Bishop Lacy Inn in Chudleigh.

But since the government has cracked down on crypto ATMs, the pub has been keeping people at arm’s length of the machine for 15 months. All while the owners of the company which has been installing the machines in Devon has been applying for a licence.

The ATM machine is still in place at the pub but the electricity has been disconnected until the proper authority has been granted by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

In the meantime the landlords at the Bishop Lacy – the oldest building in the world to have a Bitcoin ATM – have found themselves turning away customers and explaining to phone callers that everything is on hold.

A spokesman at the pub said: ‘Our application has been in for about 15 months. The machine is still up but we can’t use it.

‘We used to take a lot of money every month on that machine to be put into Bitcoin. You would be amazed how many people were buying, even in a small town like Chudleigh.

‘We are getting calls all the time from people who want to come in and use the machine. It’s a shame the FCA hasn’t given permission yet because now is a good time to buy.’

What is a Bitcoin ATM?

A person scans a QR code at a bitcoin ATM in Chiltuipan, El Salvador. (Credits: Getty)

Unlike typical ATMs where you can daw money from your bank account, Bitcoin ATMs, allow you to buy and exchange cryptocurrencies using real money. These machines produce blockchain-based transactions that send cryptos to the user’s digital wallet through QR codes.

Crypto ATMs typically use an internet-based cryptocurrency portal to manage transactions. In case of a Bitcoin ATM, users deposit their cash and the machine converts the cash into crypto and sends the funds to your Bitcoin wallet.

Users can also invest in multiple cryptocurrencies and all funds are secured within the same wallet unlike traditional banking where a user needs separate cards and accounts for each company.

Steve Underwood, of SatoshiUK, one of three directors of the company which installed the ATM at the Bishop Lacy said: ‘The FCA are being extremely diligent.

‘It’s such a shame because everything is on hold and we were offering a service to people.

‘For a little town like Chudleigh we were doing well – people were coming from all over the place.

‘Our main customers were the 55-plus age group and female. Just the other day I had a phone call from the Paignton one saying that people are ringing all the time asking when they can come and use the machine.’

The disconnected Bitcoin ATM in the Bishop Lacy Inn in Chudleigh. (Credits: Devon Live/BPM MEDIA)

According to the FCA ‘Crypto ATMs offering cryptoasset exchange services in the UK must be registered with us and comply with UK Money Laundering Regulations (MLR).

‘None of the cryptoasset firms registered with us have been approved to offer crypto ATM services, meaning that any of them operating in the UK are doing so illegally and consumers should not be using them.’

According to recent statistics, there are around 80 bitcoin ATMs operating in the UK, none of which has been approved to offer crypto ATM services.

‘We regularly warn consumers that crypto assets are unregulated and high-risk, which means people are very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them,’ the FCA said in a statement.

Bitcoin ATMs were introduced way back in 2014 when there were only 301 such machines across the globe.

Bitcoin ATMs are particularly appealing to crypto investors as they can circumvent the tedious Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures common on cryptocurrency trading platforms. 

There are now close to 34,000 cryptocurrency ATMs available globally that offer users options to buy and exchange cryptocurrencies with fiat money (actual money).

While these ATMs can be found all over the world, 90% of them are running in the US, while Canada comes in second with a little over 2,200 machines.

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