A new web-based app from BTC China called 'Picasso ATM’ allows anyone with a smartphone to become a 'walking bitcoin ATM', without the need to invest thousands of dollars in hardware. Sellers can use the app to upload and sell bitcoins nearly anywhere in the world, in a range of major currencies.
It could be the first of many moves by Chinese bitcoin exchanges to appeal to international customers. BTC China is the most prominent of China's bitcoin exchanges overseas already thanks to its English language interface and its CEO Bobby Lee's appearances at major conferences like CoinSummit.
Until now, however, it has been near impossible for non-Chinese residents to deposit fiat currencies into a BTC China account.
Lee launched the Picasso 'software ATM' at a media event that also saw the launch of China's first physical bitcoin ATM, at the IC Coffee Shop in Shanghai's Pudong Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park.
Sign up and upload
After signing up for an account with BTC China, users can upload bitcoins to their Picasso Wallet, then use the interface to trade like a human teller machine.
If the receiver is not a BTC China customer, the bitcoins can be sent instead to any mobile number worldwide, whereupon the receiver will be invited to sign up for BTC China wallet to receive and store them.
Lee proclaimed the Picasso ATM interface as "truly innovative" and "essentially a world first", saying it lowered the barrier to entry for anyone thinking of investing in physical bitcoin ATM hardware. He added:
"Now store owners, coffee shop owners, or even convenience store owners, instead of investing in a bitcoin ATM, they can just sell bitcoins at the cash register with the Picasso ATM."
Since transactions take place within BTC China's system there are no QR codes to scan, transfers are instant and there's no waiting around for six confirmations to make sure everything was legitimate.
"Bitcoin has entered into a new era, where exchanges are no longer the only way to buy and sell bitcoins. With the advent of Picasso ATM, along with other physical bitcoin ATMs everywhere, people all over the world can now easily buy and sell bitcoins," Lee continued.
"As a pioneer in the field – BTC China is now the world's longest running bitcoin exchange – we plan to continue innovating, and lead the world into this new era."
At first glance the process is similar to a face-to-face trade with LocalBitcoins. With Picasso ATM, BTC China says it is looking for a more spontaneous kind of transaction, the kind that takes place at a Satoshi Square event or group meetup.
Long distance reach
The company also wants Picasso ATM to work long-distance between trusted parties who may be in different countries, transferring fiat funds by bank wire or some other intermediary.
UI settings allow a seller to select the currency in which they'd like to be paid, and the percentage profit margin (if any) they'd like to add to the trade price. Available languages are English and Chinese, though there are plans to offer many more.
The Picasso ATM is a mobile web app, so does not require any downloads and is not subject to third party censorship or regulation. It features double-layered security; for bitcoin ATM transactions to complete, the app requires security confirmations from both the buyer and the seller.
BTC China's Picasso online wallet service has been available for a few months already. It promises customers' bitcoins are held in cold storage, with only a small percentage online at a time for daily transactions. Bitcoins can be transferred quickly in and out of Picasso wallets for use on BTC China's main trading platform.
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