Lamassu operators can now provide remittance, airport cash exchange and bill payment services via their bitcoin ATMs following the release of Rakía, the company’s new open-source software platform.
With the change, current operators of Lamassu ATMs will become independent nodes, no longer having to rely on a centralized service. In turn, they will be able to retain control of price settings, commission rates and background trading.
In a statement, Lamassu co-founder Zach Harvey said that the company doesn’t intend to become another money transfer or exchange service like Western Union or Travelex:
“We want to create a platform for thousands of small businesses to compete against these legacy financial institutions, and against each other. These are markets in dire need of fierce competition to bring down transfer and exchange fees.”
Rakía in the remittance market
Speaking to CoinDesk, Harvey emphasized the Rakía platform’s case for shaking up the remittance market and bridging the gap between developed and developing countries.
For the unbanked population of the world, bank-less ATMs are a viable way to convert cash in a more manageable format, he said, adding:
“I think it’s a great transitional stage for cryptocurrencies. It’s important to the developed world because its legacy financial institutions are flawed. But it’s even more important to emerging markets since many have no access to financial institutions at all.”
Putting plans into action
Secondly, Harvey cited fiat-pegged wallet services like BitReserve, which let users send a certain amount of funds to a bitcoin wallet pegged to the receiver’s local currency. The recipient would then use either a cash-out bitcoin ATM or a bitcoin-to-cash agent to receive their funds.
The third way, Harvey described, would be for independent agents to use Lamassu’s open-source software to create tools that connect the sending and receiving parties.
Behind each of these use cases is the drive to remove the risk of volatility. “Otherwise,” he said, “it’s just a matter of converting fiat to bitcoin and bitcoin back to a different fiat currency.” He added:
“The other main point of these services is to offer a fiat A to fiat B without the sending or receiving parties touching bitcoin, but rather having it completely behind the scenes.”
Competition heats up
The news comes amid increasing competition between Lamassu and Nevada-based Robocoin, which recently rebranded its ATM network as an online bank. In its announcement, CEO Jordan Kelley spoke at length about his company’s wider goal of tapping the potentially lucrative bitcoin remittance market.
In April, the company announced that its products would soon become portals for bitcoin services like remittance services and bill payments. One month later Lamassu introduced two-way transactions to its machines, both moves that suggests it is seeking to keep ahead of its competition.
Image by Lamassu