A Vancouver-based company has bought five Bitcoin ATMs and plans to have them up and running around Canada by December.
Bitcoiniacs, which operates a physical Bitcoin exchange in Vancouver, purchased the RoboCoin machines for $18,500 each and has the first already running in Vancouver, at Waves coffee shop on Howe Street.
Four more are scheduled for Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Calgary.
Bitcoiniacs founder Michell Demeter is a serial entrepreneur who has run sign shops and a moving company. He first began toying with Bitcoin exchanges on LocalBitcoins.com.
Dememter is eyeing a commission of about 3% from the machines after his company splits its share with RoboCoin. His account at Virtex, a Bitcoin exchange in Calgary, supports the ATM service. Trades will pass along RoboCoin’s servers.
The Washington Post reports that the Vancouver machine has already seen 100,000 CAD in ATM transactions.
RoboCoin introduced its ATM kiosks — which are about the size of an arcade game — at Bitcoin 2013 in San Jose.
A transaction on one of the machines requires a four-step process for security and compliance reasons. The machines photograph the user, scans their palm, scans their ID and asks them to sign up with an email address.
RoboCoin began taking preorders in August. There have been more than 160 inquiries from every corner of the globe: From Argentina to Sweden to Zimbabwe to Australia.
The $18,500 price per machine that Bitcoiniacs paid has since risen to $20,000. RoboCoin, of course, also accepts payment in Bitcoins.
RoboCoin CEO Jordan Kelly says cities outside of Canada — including Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and Berlin — can expect to see their machines in early 2014.
RoboCoin advertises its ATMs as being a net positive for the entire Bitcoin market because each machine increases liquidity and usages of the digital currency. This, it argues, drives up the currency’s valuation and legitimacy.
Transactions on Bitcoiniacs’ machines are limited to $3,000 because of record keeping requirements. Up to that point, though, Demeter does not expect regulatory problems, as Canada’s financial regulator, FINTRAC, does not have its eyes on Bitcoin for the moment.
Kelly estimates that 80 percent of the transactions over RoboCoin ATMs are people buying Bitcoins, with only 20 percent representing people selling their Bitcoins for hard currency.