Athena Bitcoin, the company responsible for operating a prominent chain of cryptocurrency ATMs in El Salvador, has announced plans to revolutionize their services by integrating the Lightning Network. This strategic initiative aims to significantly enhance the efficiency and functionality of these ATMs, ensuring faster transactions with reduced fees. The Lightning Network, known as a “layer 2” payment protocol, is set to be incorporated into 100 of Athena Bitcoin’s ATMs in the near future.
Athena Bitcoin Global and Genesis Coin Inc., the key driving forces behind this innovation, have successfully integrated Lightning Network technology into their infrastructure. This development will first be launched in El Salvador, with ambitious plans to expand its adoption throughout Latin America. Currently, only a mere 3.7% of the world’s crypto ATMs support Lightning Network technology, emphasizing the importance of Athena Bitcoin’s move.
The Lightning Network is designed to facilitate quicker withdrawals and reduce transaction fees, making it an attractive addition to the cryptocurrency ATM experience. It achieves this by bypassing the primary network’s accounting for transaction data. Athena Bitcoin has set its sights on activating Lightning support in 100 of the state-owned Chivo ATMs it operates in El Salvador by December 2023. Subsequently, the remaining kiosks, including those under the Athena brand, will follow suit in the first quarter of 2024. As of now, there are a total of 215 cryptocurrency teller machines operating in El Salvador.
El Salvador made history in 2021 when it became the world’s first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. This monumental decision was driven by the country’s leader, who recently announced his intention to run for re-election as president in 2024, stating emphatically, “Five more [years], five more and not one step back.”
In April 2023, the Salvadoran government took another bold step by abolishing all taxes on technology innovations. This forward-thinking policy is expected to attract more entrepreneurs and foreign capital to the country, further cementing its position as a trailblazer in cryptocurrency and technology adoption.
Experts, including Gabor Gurbacs, a strategy advisor at the investment management firm VanEck, believe that El Salvador has the potential to follow in the footsteps of Singapore and become a financial hub in the Americas. Singapore’s transformation into a global financial center serves as a model that El Salvador could emulate, leveraging its pro-crypto stance and business-friendly policies. With the integration of the Lightning Network into cryptocurrency ATMs, El Salvador continues to lead the way in embracing innovative technology and shaping the future of finance.