South Korean bitcoin services company Coinplug has enabled bitcoin purchases with credit cards through over 7,000 regular cashpoint ATMs across the country.
As well as being the first to sell bitcoins through ATMs not specifically designed for that purpose, it will be the first credit card to bitcoin service in the country.
The move, which allows customers to pay for Coinplug's prepaid okBitcard service, will make bitcoin available in many of South Korea's highest-traffic locations, including subway stations, convenience stores and busy city streets.
The new service was made possible through a deal with Korean ATM manufacturer Nautilus Hyosung, Korea's largest ATM hardware producer – the world's fourth biggest. The firm currently has 7,000-9,000 active machines in South Korea.
Nautilus Hyosung also produced a bitcoin-specific ATM for Coinplug that has been installed in a cafe in Seoul's Gangnam district since March 2014. The machine allows two-way trades, meaning users can buy or sell bitcoin, but accepts cash only.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Coinplug's Richard Yun said that when signing up new merchants to accept bitcoin, his team found the biggest concern was that bitcoin is too difficult for ordinary people to obtain.
He likened it to Elon Musk's problem with Tesla – many customers are curious about electric cars, but are reluctant to buy them due to the lack of charging infrastructure.
How to buy bitcoins
To use the system, customers select 'okBitcard' from the ATM's greeting screen, enter a phone number and date of birth for identification, insert a credit card and print a paper receipt. The receipt includes a PIN code that can then be redeemed for bitcoin value via Coinplug's smartphone app or the okBitcard site.
The video below demonstrates how it is done:
Coinplug CEO Ryan Uhr said agreeing new deals has not been difficult, since its business partners, such as Nautilus Hyosung and online payments provider Galaxia Communications, are also fintech companies that believe in bitcoin's potential.
The ATM service is available for fiat values of 10,000, 30,000 and 50,000 South Korean won (approximately $10, $30 and $50). Coinplug says it has plans to expand the service overseas in the future.
In January, Coinplug began selling okBitcards at over 8,000 7-Eleven convenience stores across South Korea, and plans to expand the scheme to other store chains soon.
Using the service, customers can also buy okBitcards from cashiers over the counter, receiving the same kind of paper receipt with redeemable code. Yun said that okBitcoin physical cards, which will be available off the shelf at stores, are still being printed.
Image courtesy Coinplug
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