Bitcoin ATMs are looking legit

| by Suzanne Cluckey
Bitcoin ATMs are looking legit

A few months ago, it looked like the Bitcoin ATM would turn out to be no more than a much-hyped pipe dream. Entrepreneur Jeff Berwick's declaration in March that he would install the first Bitcoin ATM on Cyprus stirred up much ado about nothing; in late May, developers of the alternative currency kiosks were grappling with the issue of regulatory compliance.

But RoboCoin is now reporting that "Bitcoin's First Real ATM is here and accepting pre-orders."

The rest of the blogged announcement is as follows:

RoboCoin allows buying and selling Bitcoins from a freestanding kiosk that integrates beautiful software, bank grade hardware and security, and 100% Federal compliance capabilities.

RoboCoin's technology makes it a legitimate contender in the emerging market for Bitcoin machines. "Seriously, how Bush League is an'ATM' if it can't do the equivalent of deposits and withdrawals or be left unattended?" RoboCoin CEO Jordan Kelley quipped, taking a jab at competing buy-only tabletop machines.

At $20,000 per unit (there's an $18,500 pre-order promotion through September) each RoboCoin represents a compelling investment for business owners. They'll earn a percentage of transactions and attract Bitcoin's loyal user-base, while also offering unprecedented access and ease-of-adoption to Bitcoin newcomers. Furthermore every Robocoin on the market increases Bitcoin liquidity and usage, putting upward pressure on the digital currency's valuation, awareness, and legitimacy.

RoboCoin to date has received inquiries from over 20 regions including: Canada, Australia, Prague, Kenya, Ireland, the Philippines and Thailand.

robocoin atm
graphic: RoboCoin

Notwithstanding that none of these is, in fact, a "region," it seems that the nation of Canada soon will have a handful of real, live Bitcoin ATMs, according to a report by Canada's CTV. 

Vancouver-based Bitcoiniacs, a brick-and-mortar Bitcoin broker, said it had ordered five Bitcoin kiosks from Las Vegas-based RoboCoin. The retailer plans to install its first machine in Vancouver in October and roll out the rest in December at locations to be decided.

Kelley told CTV that RoboCoin plans to ship 10 to 15 machines by the end of the year. RoboCoin kiosks can be purchased with bitcoins (naturally) or U.S. dollars.

According to the report, the machines have raised more interest north of the border because regulations drawn up by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada are more relaxed than those of the Fed.

For its part, the U.S. Treasury seems to be stepping up the regulatory pressure on Bitcoin, shutting down alleged money laundering exchanges and Ponzi schemes and arresting their proprietors.

A ruling in the U.S. Eastern District Court in Texas concerning a Ponzi-related case established that Bitcoin is money. In his opinion, Judge Amos L. Mazzant wrote:

It is clear that Bitcoin can be used as money. It can be used to purchase goods or services, and ... to pay for individual living expenses. The only limitation of Bitcoin is that it is limited to those places that accept it as currency. However, it can also be exchanged for conventional currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, euro, yen and yuan. Therefore, Bitcoin is a currency or form of money.

So that's that.

Signaling the growing maturity of the Bitcoin market (as well as Bitcoin traders' growing apprehensions about its perceived legitimacy) several exchanges have banded together to form an organizing body called The Bitcoin Foundation.

The foundation's mission is to standardize, protect and promote the digital currency. And its board displays the will of a Wild West town that's decided it's high time to weed out the miscreants and become respectable. On its website, under the "Why we need a foundation" tab, the organization explains:

As the Bitcoin economy has evolved, we have all noticed barriers to its widespread adoption—botnets that attempt to undermine the network, hackers that threaten wallets, and an undeserved reputation stirred by ignorance and inaccurate reporting.

To us, it became clear that something had to be done. We see this foundation as critical for bringing legitimacy to the Bitcoin currency. Only then can we increase its adoption and positive impact on the world's finance.

We are determined to keep Bitcoin rooted in its core principles: non-political economy, openness and independence. While we aim to advance standards and security, we remain strong advocates of the liberating power of decentralized money. Our goal is to act as both an organizing body for Bitcoin and simultaneously be inclusive of the general Bitcoin community.

In its bid for legitimacy, The Foundation is actively engaging with federal agencies that might play a role in determining Bitcoin's future. In late August, foundation members met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Secret Service.

"It's a kickoff of engagement," Peter Vessenes, chairman of the foundation's board, told Bloomberg. "Right now, law enforcement would read a salacious story, and not know what's going on. We can help them understand what's going on."

The future of the Bitcoin ATM could very well depend on that.

Read more about ATM innovation.


Topics: ATMs, Banking, Bitcoin, Regulation, Trends / Statistics

Suzanne Cluckey
Suzanne’s editorial career has spanned three decades and encompassed all B2B and B2C communications formats. Her award-winning work has appeared in trade and consumer media in the United States and internationally. She is now the editor of and wwwView Suzanne Cluckey's profile on LinkedIn

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