Czech investment firm Marlyle has announced plans to set up the first bitcoin ATM in Prague, the Czech Republic's capital.
The company's website indicates it will launch a Robocoin machine – possibly the first one to be operated in Europe – which will allow users to purchase and sell bitcoins.
Marlyle has ordered three bitcoin ATMs from US manufacturer Robocoin Technologies, with the first one set to be located in the Smichov district of the Czech capital. The contract, signed in December last year, is worth about 1,500,000 CZK ($74,500) according to the operator.
Under the plan, Marlyle’s first bitcoin ATM is to become operational in April 2014. The locations of the remaining two machines have not been disclosed by the Czech company, but Marlyle says it will unveil further information on the project in February.
Last year, a bitcoin ATM was set up in Bratislava, in neighbouring Slovakia. However, the machine allowed its users to solely convert flat currency into bitcoins. Operated by local company 0011, and owned by IT entrepreneur Marian Jančuška, the bitcoin ATM is located in the centre of the Slovak capital.
Demand and supply
Lamassu says on its website that a purchase of between one and four units of its bitcoin ATM generates a cost of $5,000 per piece, while buying 10 or more units diminishes the price tag to $4,000 per piece.
This means that, compared with the three machines acquired by Marlyle under the $74,500 contract, Lamassu’s small footprint machines have a lower price tag. However, the Czech company says the functionality of its Robocoin machine exceeds that of the Bratislava-based machine. Marlyle stated:
Martin Stránský, chief executive of Marlyle, said the country’s first Robocoin machine was part of a larger project aiming to provide a wide range of bitcoin-related services to the platform’s clients. To lure customers, the company says that qualified staff will help its clients make their first steps in the digital currency market.
“We believe that this versatile and customer-friendly service will enable digital currency trading to those people who are thinking about it today, but have been discouraged by concerns related to the safety of their investments,” he said.
Trust-building measures could be key to the company’s potential success in the Czech Republic.
Last year, the country’s bitcoin market was shaken by an attack which targeted Czech bitcoin exchange Bitcash.cz. In November 2013, the platform was hacked and up to 4,000 wallets of its customers were emptied, resulting in the closure of the site.
The same month, a similar incident took place in neighboring Poland, with bitcoin exchange Bidextreme.pl hacked and customers’ wallets containing bitcoins and litecoins emptied. Local company Magnus, which owns Bidextreme.pl, said the site was put up for sale to cover its users' losses, with the starting price set at 170 BTC.
Robocoin claims that the machine’s three-step verification process allows users to buy bitcoin “in under 15 seconds”. Robocoin also says its ATMs “come fully equipped with bank-grade security and biometric hardware” and are fitted with a palm vein scanner which “can limit a user's daily transaction amount by taking a unique, anonymous (no fingerprints) infrared picture of a customer's blood vessels,” according to its website.
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