Raspberry Pi-powered briefcase converts loose change into bitcoin

The Defcon hacker conference saw bitcoin being sold via a briefcase, where loose change was exchanged for QR codes.

AccessTimeIconAug 8, 2013 at 10:24 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 10, 2021 at 11:28 a.m. UTC

Hackers at the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas were recently seen offering bitcoin for sale via a robotic briefcase. People could simply walk up and put their loose change into the coin slot and in return they received a QR code printed on till receipt paper that they could use to redeem their bitcoins.

The hacker minding the briefcase, going by the name Garbage, spoke to The Verge and told them that the bitcoin-serving briefcase had been made to increase awareness of bitcoin. The briefcase itself reportedly cost $250 to build and was driven by a Raspberry Pi computer, with a mobile 4G modem, and was powered from a mains socket on the outside of one of the convention buildings.

The briefcase offered an easy way for passers-by to get involved in digital currency, without having to make a major or time-consuming investment. The machine checked the current rate on Mt. Gox before processing the transaction.

The briefcase represents a similar notion to Lamassu's Bitcoin ATM, which was seen at the Bitcoin London event earlier this year. Zach Harvey, co-founder of Lamassu, believes that the kind of physical and real-world experience the bitcoin briefcase offers is important for newcomers to bitcoin. "Experiencing a bitcoin transaction is significantly more powerful than theorising the political and financial advantages of the digital currency," he said.

"The amount itself is less important for the experience, so being able to insert a virtually worthless dime is a great negligible-risk start for the bitcoin-curious."

Photo credit: Joey Devilla


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.