Hong Kong's first bitcoin ATM opened earlier today at a cafe in one of the city's busiest pedestrian districts.
The launch took place at 7:30am, within the franchise premises at 83 Wellington Street, just off Hong Kong's Central-Mid Levels escalator.
With such a public location, it will likely serve as an indicator of the Hong Kong general public's interest in bitcoin.
Just hours after the Mr Bing machine went live, local Hong Kong bitcoin exchange ANXBTC also launched a similar machine, revealing a race was on to supply bitcoins to an increasingly aware public in the startup and financial hub. There are even reports that a third company, Alitobit, will unveil another ATM in the coming weeks.
Bitcoin ATM manufacturer Robocoin announced it would be shipping machines to Hong Kong back in early January, but it seems it has been beaten to the post by the simpler, smaller Lamassu version.
The special administrative region of China already has online digital currency exchanges like ANXBTC and Bitfinex, with others coming soon. Furthermore, ANXBTC opened a physical trading counter just a couple of weeks ago.
In densely populated Hong Kong, the Central-Mid Levels escalator is an 800-metre covered escalator and moving walkway system – the longest in the world – that carries 55,000 people a day, serving as a commuter transit system carrying city workers to and from their apartments.
The route has become a highly developed retail and restaurant precinct, and the Mr Bing outlet sees a high turnover every day.
The Beijing creperie – which was founded by New Yorker Brian Goldberg – was also present at Hong Kong's recent 'RISE:Bitcoin' event, which aimed to introduce newcomers to digital currency use in daily life and attracted over 100 interested attendees on the day.
The company launching the ATM, Bitcoin Group HK, was formed by five long-term Hong Kong residents who came together to find new opportunities for digital currency in the territory.
Should the first ATM prove successful, they will definitely be scouting out a location for a second machine.
Images via Bitcoin Group HK, Mr. Bing