At tomorrow's Bitcoin London event, a bitcoin ATM will be shown for the first time in a European venue. The machine is produced by Lamassu, who has reprogrammed its machine to accept sterling (GBP). It's said that the bitcoin machine should enter full production by the third quarter of 2013.
It is hoped that the Bitcoin Machine will become a global solution for converting fiat currencies into bitcoin. As shown in the video below, the process is intended to be far simpler than turning to online bitcoin exchanges, such as Mt. Gox. A customer brings up a QR code representing their bitcoin wallet (e.g. using the Blockchain app), enters their fiat note/bill, and then taps on the screen to confirm the transaction.
The video below shows this process being demonstrated, by Lamassu's Zach Harvey, at the Bitcoin Foundation's Bitcoin 2013 conference in San Jose in May.
According to PR Web, since the Bitcoin conference in May, Lamassu has been contacted by at least 60 potential distributors in countries including Australia, Canada, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Israel, Kenya, Libya, Switzerland, and the UK.
The appeal of a device like this is clear, as it vastly simplifies the process of buying bitcoins - i.e converting fiat currencies. It is not made clear how users will be advised as to what they will get for their money. However, careful examination of the publicity photos of the bitcoin machine does show a USD exchange rate displayed on-screen prior to a transaction. This will presumably be adjusted to show the exchange rate of the local currency for wherever a given machine is installed.
Lamassu's website claims that the machine can accept notes from over 200 countries. The website also claims that it will convert fiat currency to bitcoin in fifteen seconds and that it is compatible with "leading exchanges such as Mt. Gox and Bitstamp". Most interestingly, the product description says it is free of licence fees, which might provide an incentive for adoption of the device as bitcoin becomes more popular.
Because of the way bitcoin works, the fifteen-second claim can only apply to the duration of the transaction with the machine. Customers will of course have to wait for blockchain confirmations for any BTC to appear in their wallet.
CoinDesk will be covering the Bitcoin London conference all day tomorrow.