Malta’s First Bitcoin ATM Founder ‘Knew Nothing About Bitcoin’

Doubts circle Malta’s first Bitcoin ATM as second ATM pops up in St Julian’s

The man who recently set up Malta’s first Bitcoin ATM in Sliema is being accused of outright amateurism from several quarters.

“It seems as though he knew nothing about Bitcoin and that he just wanted to install the first Bitcoin ATM in Malta before doing his research,” Jonathan Galea, president of the NGO BitMalta, told Lovin Malta. “Unfortunately, as it stands, any Tom, Dick and Harry can just open up their own Bitcoin ATM in Malta.”

Romanian entrepreneur Gabriel Cretu Torica launched the novel ATM in Blanche Huber Street last month, which allowed people with eWallets on their smartphones to check their account balance and purchase the Bitcoin cryptocurrency at a 8% transaction fee by holding QR codes on their phones in front of the ATM.

Yet the ATM started eating the money of clients who couldn’t afford the amount of Bitcoin they had keyed in, forcing Torica to buy the Bitcoin for them out of his own pocket – often at a loss.

He is now blaming General Bytes, the leading ATM machine producing company he had bought it from, for not telling him in advance about this glitch.

However, General Bytes – in a comment on Lovin Malta’s article – said it seems the problem is that Torica hadn’t configured the ATM properly.

“Configuration problems are common with starting ATM operators but are easily solved….We would love to help to get this ATM online and have dedicated support staff available but think that publishing some angry rants and raves on a non-bitcoin publication is really not the best way to ask for support,” the company wrote.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin trader Martin Jensen – who had supplied Torica with the Bitcoin for his ATM – warned on a local Bitcoin Facebook group his old business partner had had no experience with the cryptocurrency whatsoever and was involved in criminal activity in the past.

He was referring to a 2016 article in Slovenian news outlet, which reports a certain Gabriel Cretu Torica had failed to turn up to court to answer to charges of damaging an ATM while attempting to install a skimming device.

Contacted by Lovin Malta, Torica vehemently denied he was the same person mentioned in the article and accused the Slovenian news outlet of having wrongly used his photo in its original article.

New Bitcoin ATM pops up in St Julian’s 

Meanwhile, Bitmalta president Jonathan Galea informed Lovin Malta a certain Fausto Craighero, an Italian, has just opened a new Bitcoin ATM in St Julian’s, right outside real estate agency Zanzi Homes. However, he warned Craighero has so far not filled up any Know Your Client (KYC) forms,

“He had approached Bitmalta to ask us for our support, but as soon as we brought up KYC he questioned whether it was really necessary,” Galea said. “We said it was absolutely necessary because people are still investing their own money at the end of the day. We left it at that and he told us yesterday he had up and installed his ATM.”

“The Bitcoin ATM market is just about self-regulation at this stage,” Galea said. “Due to the lack of regulation, we’re seeing two ends of the spectrum – some people are acting extremely diligently and are doing everything by the book and beyond, while others are just making hay while the sun shines.”