Though they missed becoming the first operational bitcoin ATM in the US by less than 24 hours, the entrepreneurs behind Liberty Teller caused quite a stir when they revealed that they would boot up their new Lamassu machine in Boston's busy South Station on 19th February.
The largest train station in the Boston metropolitan area, South Station holds 13 tracks and seven platforms as part of the city's public subway system, and is the last stop for New England commuters who take the public commuter rail. These additional lines provide extended service to nearby metros Providence and Worcester.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Liberty Teller founder Chris Yim said he couldn't have asked for a better location:
"South Station gets 25 million travellers a year, and there's really nothing else like that. None of the other bitcoin ATM locations in the world come close to that."
The United States was previously rumored to have its first bitcoin ATMs by the end of the month, but high-tech hubs Seattle and Austin were pegged as the frontrunners to take the technology to the public for the first time.
Timing the launch
A look at the group's Twitter account shows Liberty Teller founders Yim and Kyle Powers wasted no time after receiving their Lamassu brand ATM on 18th February. The former Wharton School classmates and long-time bitcoin enthusiasts posted pictures of their unwrapping of the unit, and just the next day, had tweeted pictures of their fully operational machine at South Station.
— Liberty Teller (@libertyteller) February 19, 2014
Addressing the timing of the launch, Powers said that Liberty Teller was just "in the right place, at the right time" to be one of the first to market, and that the machine is really just part of their larger goal to help bitcoin buying become faster and more secure through the effective use of kiosks
When asked about the New Mexico ATM installed the day prior, Yim was quick to note that Liberty Teller had made an industry first with its installation.
"It wasn't public," he added.
By lunch time, the ATM had attracted a sizable crowd of interested onlookers, with most asking Yim and Powers introductory questions about bitcoin and the machine.
Liberty Teller chose to give out a small amount of bitcoin to every person who stopped by. The bitcoin was handed out via a paper giveaway wallet that explained how the recipent could receive the bitcoin online. Yim and Powers are self-funding the ATMs, but are also calling for interested community members to donate to the machine as a way to spur adoption.
One enterprising user who made a purchase was Davis Foster, an app developer from Wellesely, Massachusetts, who was on his way to work when he noticed the machine.
A long-time bitcoin supporter, Foster said he was unaware of the ATM, and simply made a purchase to show his support.
What's next for Liberty Teller?
For now, Yim and Powers say their ATM will make its home in South Station. Liberty Teller is renting a corridor near one of the station's rear entrances, and is currently sharing its space with an apparell vending machine.
Liberty Teller hopes to build a broad network of ATMs that includes other retail spots, though its founders acknowledged they were likely to face competition.
Yim noted that the bitcoin-accepting merchants he spoke with see the appeal in hosting a machine that allows consumers to spend more bitcoin in store.
"We're going to bring in a ton of traffic, and that's going to be attractive to businesses that want to present a high-tech focus, as well as one that's consumer friendly," Yim said.
Images and video by Pete Rizzo