In just a few weeks, the options have doubled for people in London who want to buy their bitcoin instantly with cash, rather than via an online transaction and all the proof of ID/bank payment rigmarole that entails.
If you hadn’t guessed, those options have gone from just one to two, but the speed at which they have appeared is a sign that bitcoin is increasingly being seen as a viable business option in the UK.
And now, less than a mile away, London’s very first bitcoin ATM machine has begun pinging digital currency to customers’ wallets at the trendy Old Shoreditch Station cafe.
Arts and coins
The cafe – as well as exhibitions, events and a shop – is operated by Jaguar Shoes, an arts collective that has been accepting bitcoin payments for its products since July last year.
Setting up shop
The decision by the UK tax authority, HMRC, to classify bitcoins as VAT exempt was announced on the day Future Coins installed the ATM.
“This couldn't have come at a better time, said Raziel. “We could have faced major difficulties otherwise, so I suppose we took quite a risk in this sense.”
There is a limit of £1,000 for transactions at the ATM and no ID is required, unlike some ATMs in other countries.
Future Coins does not use an exchange partner at present, but the ATM manufacturer will be rolling out this option soon, Raziel said. “For the time being we are having to preload the machine with coins, which puts us at risk of currency fluctuations.”
Because of this, he adds, it will cost you an 8% commission to use the ATM currently.
So novel is the bitcoin ATM in the UK, that its second customer travelled over 200 miles to use it. “We were so honoured to have him with us,” Raziel said, “we treated him to lunch (paid for with bitcoin).”
Future Coins may have won the title of ‘first bitcoin ATM in London’, but it will probably not have the playing field to itself for long.
Both companies have machines on order and had hoped to be the first to set up their trading business on London turf.
First or not, the city is a very big place and there is plenty of room for more ATM outlets to provide visitors and locals alike easy access to the advantages that bitcoin brings.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.