Last week, Cointelegraph reported Red Bull’s introduction of a Bitcoin-only Red Bull vending machine at Hackers Congress in Prague. Martijn Wismeijer, representative of General Bytes, the manufacturer of the machine, tells us about manufacturing Bitcoin ATMs, 3D printing process and future collaborations.
"By standardizing on our own Bitcoin computer we can rapidly create new applications using the tools we already have. We like to see it as LEGO for Bitcoin applications."
Manufacturing Bitcoin ATMs
The Red Bull’s Bitcoin-only vending machine was originally manufactured by the Red Bull development team in Thailand. Upon its completion, the machine was sent to a Bitcoin ATM manufacturer - General Bytes and Prague-based 3D printing company Makers Lab for additional modification.
Essentially, Red Bull required the integration of a Bitcoin payment system that would allow the vending machine to accept digital currency payments via contactless NFC payment method. With focus set on user experience and flexibility, General Bytes hoped to make Bitcoin transactions easier than cash.
“Users do not need to know anything about Bitcoin or crypto to get a can of RedBull. Instead, they just have to swipe their wallet card. “We wanted to streamline the purchase process and make it easier to use than cash,” explained General Bytes marketing manager Martijn Wismeijer.
To do this, the General Bytes team first removed the cash acceptor on the original Red Bull vending machine, which took up a significant amount of internal space. Considering the difficulty of creating custom fit replacement cover manually, General Bytes partnered with Makerslab to 3D print the cover for the Bitcoin acceptor with necessary modification for various compartments.
“Removing the cash acceptor left us with this huge hole in the vending machine so the designers at Makerslab created a 3D-printed replacement cover for the coin acceptor with mounting holes for status LEDs and NFC wallet reader,” Wismeijer added.
Red Bull and General Bytes believed that both the manufacturing process and distribution of the Red Bull Bitcoin vending machine came to life because programmers, hardware hackers, 3D makers and artists came together to create the one and only Red Bull signature Bitcoin vending machine.
Unique System integrated
One unique aspect of the machine is the sophistication of the General Bytes Bitcoin computer, which was integrated into the Red Bull machine for payment processing. Wismeijer explains that the identical software and system implemented into its cryptocurrency ATMs powered the Red Bull machine, which made the entire payment process and experience smooth and simple.
The General Bytes cryptocurrency ATM was also tested and utilized by Andrej Babiš, Finance Minister of the Czech Republic since 2014, who was instructed by Bitcoin expert Andreas Antonopoulos during the process of purchasing Bitcoins.
Cointelegraph: Does General Bytes plan to collaborate with other huge companies in the future?
Martijn Wismeijer: We certainly hope to do more partnerships with big brands and can basically create anything they want. When a client approaches us and wants to do something new or crazy, we get together and make it happen. Big brands usually have the social-media muscle that will help increase Bitcoin adoption and their marketing departments are usually great to work with. We think we will see many novel applications for Bitcoin and the Blockchain technology now the tools are here.
CT: Aren't Bitcoin ATM's becoming less relevant?
MW: Some people say Bitcoin ATM's and vending machines will become less relevant because of availability of Bitcoin debit cards. This might be true for BTC to cash exchanges but this is simply not possible the other way around as fiat transfers can be reversed after the Bitcoins have been sold. If regular ATM's would start selling Bitcoin on a large scale, this would mean disaster charge-back-fraud wise and because of that, there will always be a market for Bitcoin ATM's that accept cash in return for some Bitcoin. We currently see about 60% buying vs 40% selling activity according to our ATM operators, so these debits cards will not hurt the ATM industry much. For vending machines, we see a bright future as there is no more cash (coins, lot's of them!) to manage, reducing the risk of fraud, theft, burglary and vandalism to the machines. We think that the Internet of things and the Internet of Value are therefore a perfect match.