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Austrian crypto enthusiasts have opened an exchange office where users can buy and sell bitcoins for euro and get information about the cryptocurrency.

The bitcoin “bank branch” is located at 49 Mariahilfer Strasse, a vibrant shopping area in the centre of the Austrian capital. To make a transaction, a customer only needs to provide a 27-34-digit alphanumeric address of their bitcoin wallet.

The exchange office is run by the Austrian cryptocurrency startup Bit Trust, reports The Local. The company’s Managing Director Magdalena Isbrandt explained to those unfamiliar with bitcoin the main benefit of the cryptocurrency, that is, the ability to carry out operations faster and without intermediaries.

Andreas Peterson, a representative of Bitcoin Austria, also says:

“If I pay online with Bitcoin, I have a certain level of privacy. The vendor does not have my credit card number. If I pay for purely digital goods, like computer games, I have a much better feeling as I’m not handing over all my private data.”

Meanwhile, some public agencies are cautious about the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies. Thus, Gabriele Zgubic, Head of the Department of Consumer Policy at the Vienna Chamber of Labour, warned the public about bitcoin volatility and security issues:

“It is subject to strong fluctuations, which could mean you end up losing money. There’s also the security risk, as it’s very attractive to hackers, and you have to be aware of the security on your smartphone. As it’s an unregulated currency, if you do get hacked, there’s no one you can claim compensation from.”

Until now, bitcoin users in Vienna have been able to buy the cryptocurrency only at Bitcoin ATMs. According to Coin ATM Radar, the Austrian capital has six bitcoin exchange machines, five of which are produced by General Bytes and one by the world’s largest bitcoin ATM supplier Lamassu. An average transaction commission is between 2.7% and 5.1%.

The Financial Market Authority of Austria urges consumers to be extremely cautious buying or investing in cryptocurrencies because they are likely to be used in large-scale frauds and Ponzi schemes. “The risk of their misuse for criminal purposes, particularly with regard to fraud or breach of trust is therefore especially high, with any form of legal enforcement or enforcement of claims for damages sustained being particularly difficult or even impossible.”

Elena Platonova

Image via The Local