The new gold rush: Bitcoin ATMs are coming

goldrush10 Mar 2014 / The Verge – Sebuh Honarchian, a developer from Los Angeles, showed up at the South By Southwest Interactive trade show in Austin, Texas on Saturday because he heard there would be a Bitcoin ATM and he needed to pay rent. He found the machine in a corner of the trade floor, flashed it a QR code on his phone, and retrieved $3,000 — less than five BTC at current prices.

“I just cashed my Bitcoin out because I need to pay some bills, you know I got rent and other things,” he tells The Verge. “You have to cash out your Bitcoin sometimes whenever you need to spend it. These machines make it really easy.”

There are at least three companies making ATMs designed for Bitcoin, the virtual currency that approximates cash on the internet. Two of the models only dispense Bitcoin, but one is capable of dispensing US dollars as well. That model is made by Robocoin, a startup based in Las Vegas, and it’s about the size of a vending machine. There are now at least four of them in Austin, one in Vancouver, and three in Edmonton, all of which were installed in the last three weeks.

The Robocoin ATM is relatively convenient compared to what people had to do before, which was show up at a trading event or use a website like LocalBitcoins to find someone nearby who would meet up and trade. You can also buy Bitcoin online, but that can take weeks to process.

The ATM experience is far from seamless, however. To use it, you must submit your phone number, a PIN, a government ID, a palm vein scan, and let it take your photo. This is to comply with anti-money laundering laws that require money services businesses to keep certain records on their customers. Cashing out Bitcoin can take up to 15 minutes because the currency is designed so that every transaction must be verified by users in the network. The price of Bitcoin is also higher at the ATM than it is online, because of the convenience of using cash as well as the fees charged by the operators….. Read more

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