Robocoin, Lamassu, BitAccess, Genesis Coin, BitXatm – the global bitcoin ATM market is already being served by a number of emerging manufacturers. However, that isn't stopping new entrants from attacking the space.
With its late-August launch, CoinOutlet is hoping to make inroads in this burgeoning sector of the industry, investing now while interest in bitcoin ATM offerings remains high and new locations for bitcoin ATMs are still being discovered.
Following the announcement, CoinDesk spoke with CoinOutlet founder and CEO Eric Grill to discuss why he feels his company can succeed in the bitcoin ATM space given the challenges his company will face in the form of both competition and regulation.
Grill explained that his company's advantage is in the buying process, saying:
“It’s pretty simple and straightforward. You get them right away, you don’t have to wait, you don’t have to give us your bank account information. I think these kiosks will become more than just kiosks as regulation becomes more clear.”
The anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) compliant, two-way machines are now available for purchase around the globe. 10 units are already being prepared for shipment.
Priced to sell
Notably, each CoinOutlet bitcoin ATM machine retails for $8,000 and features both local currency and digital currency support.
The pricing means CoinOutlet offers a middle-ground option in the market. By comparison, Robocoin's two-way physical bitcoin bank branches and Genesis Coin's two-way ATM model retail for $15,000 and $14,500, respectively, while Lamassu's one-way bitcoin vending machines sell for $6,500.
Lamassu's bitcoin vending machines can be equipped for two-way functionality, however, this requires operators to purchase a companion stand, which retails for $5,500.
However, CoinOutlet does have competitors in its price range. BitXatm offers its two-way models for €3,900, or roughly $5,100, though it recently inked an exclusive agreement to sell its US units to one operator.
The future of kiosks
Looking ahead, Grill said that the ATM space is still very much in its early stages and that the units could serve as the basis for new types of financial and wealth management.
For example, Grill suggested that a restaurant could offer a bitcoin ATM as both a teller machine for digital currency as well as a point of sale (POS) to facilitate bitcoin acceptance.
“Any merchant that has this in their store can also use their ATM as a POS system. If someone wants to pay in bitcoin, they can ring it up on here. There’s no chargebacks – that’s one way we can get in the door with a lot of merchants is offering a free POS system.”
He added that on an international level, ATMs can be utilized as physical exchange points for commodities, precious metals and whatever else a user wants to trade.
However, Grill noted that given the regulatory uncertainty in the US, it’s unlikely that this type of functionality will hit the market soon.
As the technology is still in its infancy, it’s possible that the bitcoin ATMs we know today could be radically different tomorrow.
When asked about his experiences working with financial regulators, Grill said that nearly all the conversations he has held in the past year have been constructive and informative.
While some have expressed a lack of understanding regarding both the purpose and the underlying technology of a bitcoin ATM, regulators – particularly state-based agencies – have been open to the concept.
Grill said that overall, many federal and state-level contacts simply want to learn more about digital currency. He also suggested that regulators don’t view bitcoin negatively, saying that they are more enthusiastic than many community members suggest.
He told CoinDesk:
“I don’t want to call them friendly, but I don’t think they're looking to impose these harsh rules on us. They want to protect people."
That being said, Grill believes that the regulatory environment remains very fluid. He cited a recent decision by financial regulators in North Carolina to utilize existing legal frameworks to oversee bitcoin rather than adopting an approach akin to New York’s BitLicense proposal.
“We can’t comply with [the BitLicense] as a company. We could do it technically, but the burden – that expense is humongous. That’s gonna keep us out of New York.”
Images via CoinOutlet, MadBitcoins