The company behind the world’s first bitcoin ATM is planning to set up machines in London and Singapore by mid-March.
Vancouver-based Bitcoiniacs, said the new machines are part of a global expansion that will also include setting up physical brokerage offices for retail customers and a push to increase use of its own bitcoin exchange.
Bitcoiniacs founder Mitchell Demeter said the ATMs would likely be located inside a cafe or coffee shop, with a brokerage office attached. This would be similar to its current set-up in Vancouver, where the ATM is located in Waves Coffee House.
“We’re currently looking for a location. We’ve got a gentleman on the ground in Singapore that we’ve been working with. We’re likely going to do a similar set-up to what we have here in Vancouver,” Demeter said.
The ATMs going to London and Singapore are Robocoin models. Bitcoiniacs currently operates a Robocoin machine in Vancouver as well.
Demeter said Singapore is a prime target for the company’s expansion plans because of the country’s clear rules on the taxation of bitcoin.
“[Singapore] became very attractive to us as soon as [the authorities] made it clear where they stood on bitcoin. It’s an attractive location for business overall, so it was the perfect location.”
The new ATMs are being deployed as Bitcoiniacs renews its push to promote its own exchange, Cointrader. All Bitcoiniacs machines will be connected to Cointrader, which is billed as an exchange for ATM operators. The firm decided to set up its own exchange after it faced a large number of unprocessed transactions with Bitstamp.
Demeter said his firm’s original plan was to build a network of brokerages and ATMs around the world, initially relying on external exchanges. But, he said the big exchanges currently provide an unsatisfactory level of customer support.
“We quickly realised we could provide better service to our customers if we owned our exchange platform. Then we’re not at the mercy of [external] exchanges.”
Bitcoiniacs’ brokerage offices work in tandem with the firm’s ATMs. According to Demeter, the offices are popular with first-time bitcoin buyers who want their questions answered by someone in person. The brokerage offices also allow bitcoin sellers to collect cash immediately, instead of waiting for their funds to be withdrawn from an exchange account.
“For a lot of people we’re the first contact they have with bitcoin. A lot of people do research online but they don’t have anyone physically to talk to. A lot of people find that a huge advantage,” he said.
Race to market
Bitcoiniacs will have competition in the ATM space in both London and Singapore. A firm called Bitcoin Exchange plans to set up a Lamassu ATM, which only performs fiat-to-bitcoin conversions, in the Southeast Asian city-state by April. An ATM in Hong Kong, also a Robocoin unit, was announced for a January installation, but no further updates about it have been published. Therefore, the Bitcoiniacs machine could beat it to become the first bitcoin ATM in Asia.
In London, three startups are vying to install the city’s first bitcoin ATM, with units from both Lamassu and Robocoin. One of the firms could have its unit installed this week, its founder told CoinDesk, although he has not confirmed the date yet.
Featured image via beggs / Flickr