Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd told GGRAsia in an emailed statement on Monday night that it had “no knowledge of [any] bitcoin kiosk at any of the shops at Sands Macao”.
Last week the territory’s financial regulator the Monetary Authority of Macau warned that bitcoins were neither regulated nor “a financial instrument subject to its supervision”. The bitcoin kiosk was installed in a jewellery shop retailer operating in the lobby of Sands Macao casino on Friday.
The installation was publicised on a bitcoin industry online news site called newsbtc.com, and confirmed separately to GGRAsia by Coinnect, a Hong Kong-based and -incorporated digital currency company that said it was acting as an agent in the deal.
GGRAsia also on Monday afternoon approached the Monetary Authority of Macau for clarification on the legal status in Macau of bitcoin kiosks and the use of bitcoin currency, but no reply was available during office hours.
By Monday afternoon the machine had been moved from the jewellery shop to another location by installation engineers, according to site checks by GGRAsia.
The bitcoin system can work as a way of facilitating cross-border money movement, including from mainland China to Macau, bitcoin industry sources confirmed to GGRAsia. People can buy the digital currency in mainland China, and then sell the currency back to the bitcoin vendors for cash dispensed via kiosks installed outside the PRC’s borders.
The news of the bitcoin kiosk installation at a jewellery shop in the grounds of Sands Macao comes at a time investors are expecting some kind of tightening of Macau government controls regarding the use of unregistered China UnionPay Ltd card reading machines in Macau. Mainland visitors are only allowed to take a daily limit of RMB20,000 (US$3,211) out of mainland China in cash.
Using UnionPay transactions to move money cross-border from mainland China to Macau is not in itself illegal. But earlier this year several merchants were arrested for allegedly using unregistered, hand held UnionPay card swipe devices out of Macau hotel rooms in order to record the transactions as taking place on the mainland.
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