A few new Bitcoin ATMS, also called BTMS (Bitcoin teller machines), recently started to operate in five different cities across four continents. New York, Dallas, Canberra, Johannesburg, and Isle of Man are the locations where people may get acquainted with the convenience of using bitcoins.
Bitcoin ATMS can be considered a milestone for the Bitcoin industry as they will familiarize the customers with the digital currency and give them much-needed “on-ramps” to the Bitcoin economy. According to the organizers and the customers who already had a chance to use new BTMS, these machines are not very different from your usual ATMS and, so far, these BTMS have acclaimed for their ease of use and novel designs.
BTMS invade New York City
The first Bitcoin ATMS opened for business both in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Manhattan’s first BTM was launched on Thursday in the West Village at Flat 128, a luxury UK jewellery and home goods store on Christopher Street. The machine was made by Lamassu and cost US$6,500. The new BTM, however, is a one-way machine, meaning that users can insert cash and receive bitcoins in their digital wallets in exchange but not vice versa. However, Zach Harvey, founder of Lamassu Company, stated:
“[…] That could change in the coming months, however, as Lamassu plans to release software that will let the machines exchange cyber currency for cash.”
A tech writer, Jason Koebler, has spoken to the store owner, Elizabeth DuBois. She said that even though she doesn’t know a lot about Bitcoin, she is willing to accept it as bitcoins are automatically and instantaneously converted into real dollars. Koebler also acclaims his first use of this BTM. In his article, he mentions how easy it was and how much quicker it was compared to when he tried to do it via the Internet.
Even though it may take some time for the users to learn about transaction fees, Manhattan’s BTM manager and owner, Matt Russell of PYC, says that it is currently less than 10 percent of the transaction value, although this figure may fluctuate.
“The benefit of using a BTM instead of a bank account is speed,” claims Mr Harvey from Lamassu, “people who change cash to Bitcoin through a bank may have to wait days for the transactions to clear, but with the Lamassu BTM it’s almost instant.”
According to a journalist Jason Koebler, the only way for the cryptocurrency to leave the niche is to make it easily accessible, usable and, above all, effortless. The new BTMS has already been called by Instagram’s users as the ‘wave of the future.’ What’s more, the marketing director for the operator company PYC, Matt Russell, remarked on his company’s big plans for the future. He fully understands Mr Koebler’s point about the Bitcoin accessibility, and stated:
“We want Manhattan to be 'Bitcoin Island’. We want this whole island overflowing with our Bitcoin machines.”
- Manhattan’s first Bitcoin ATM
This month, another BTM opened in Brooklyn. It is operated by Bitcoin merchant CoinCafe and was installed in an old phone booth in its Williamsburg offices on Nassau Avenue. This BTM offers a flat fee of 2.95 percent and with a US$500 transaction limit.
- Bitcoin ATM in Brooklyn
Dallas’s first BTM
First Bitcoin ATM to appear in Dallas was meant to be installed by BTCity as it was already announced. As the company still has not found the right place for its BTM, a local entrepreneur who has traded bitcoins for six months, Jimmy Scott, has decided to launch his own Bitcoin ATM, making it the first in Dallas.
He placed his BTM into Buzzbrews’ Deep Ellum location winning the race with BTCity. This is how Scott explains his decision:
"A popular way [to buy Bitcoins on LocalBitcoins] is by cash deposit and I had some guys out there running fraud through my account, so basically, I'm trying to find the safest way for people to buy and sell Bitcoins. To me [the ATM] is it.”
Even if his BTM has seen only one transaction so far, the Buzzbrews’ owner and Scott remain optimistic. Scott’s Bitcoin ATM differs from the machine intended to be planted by BTCity as the transactions can be made only in one direction. This BTM does not support the cash-out option and bitcoins can be purchased with cash - up to US$1,000. According to Mr. Scott this lowers the security risk and leaves him subject to lesser regulations, which can be quite overwhelming even in such a digital currency friendly state as Texas.
Canberra’s BTM opens for business
The first Bitcoin ATM that has been installed in Canberra by the group Bit2Bit accepts and exchanges three different digital currencies: Bitcoin, Dogecoin and Litecoin.
It is the only ATM that handles three currencies as the others already set up in Australia are specifically for Bitcoin. Alex Hume from Bit2Bit explained that “there were at least nine businesses in Canberra accepting bitcoin, including the local bus system ACTION”. Chris Guzowski from the Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association has only confirmed this statement saying that many users were drawn to cryptocurrencies because they do not incur regular bank fees. There are about 50,000 people using Bitcoin in Australia and that that number would grow, based on Guzowski’s estimates.
First BTM in Johannesburg
Rolf Deppe and Monre Botes from local IT coaching company Tremendous Learning are responsible for the first installation of a BTM in the country. They also plan to install more BTMS in Cape Town and Pretoria.
The use of this BTM is as easy as using every other. A customer only needs to have his Bitcoin wallet on his smartphone. South Africa is considered a developing market for bitcoins as just a few weeks ago PayFast partnered with the local exchange, BitX, to add a Bitcoin payment option to more than 30,000 online shops, including one of the country’s largest commerce sites, Takealot.
Isle of Man
First Bitcoin ATM has been installed at a pub in the island’s capital, Douglas by QwikBit. The Lamassu machine was successfully received and is happily being used by the pub’s customers. The security of the BTM was also reinforced with special software. “It was the first time a third party has coded a software update for a Lamassu machine”, say QwikBit’s chief operating officer Stan Ho.
The BTM network is expanding with each passing day. So far, the public opinion and users are more than enthusiastic about the appearing Bitcoin ATMS as they can gladly use bitcoins even for everyday shopping needs.
And while this trend will surely continue providing everyday users and consumers with Bitcoin ‘on-ramps,’ it is also exciting to see real life Bitcoin infrastructure springing up at brick-and-mortar locations worldwide.