You Can Pre-Order This $15,000 Crypto-Powered Beer Vending Machine

Decentralized identity startup Civic is rolling out a new product: beer vending machines that can verify ID.

AccessTimeIconMar 13, 2019 at 8:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:58 a.m. UTC

Where there's a long line for beer today, there could one day be a Civic vending machine.

At its booth at SXSW Wednesday, the decentralized identity startup Civic was on hand to showcase three vending machines selling local staples – Shiner Bock and Austin Amber beer. The demo is a test for a product that Civic plans to roll out officially later this year: a $15,000 machine that can verify a user's age and accept payment via crypto. The units are currently available for pre-order.

"We're merging identity and payment into one transaction," Civic's Titus Capilnean told CoinDesk.

Since opening for business last Sunday, Capilnean estimated that the machines sold about 150 beers per day for a total of roughly 100,000 CVC – or $7,600 – in sales.

Tokens from the sales were airdropped to SXSW attendees by the company itself.

Beers cost 200 CVC each, or about $12 at the start of the event, Capilnean said. iPhone users who downloaded the Civic Pay app and verified their identity received enough CVC to buy one round. Then after making a couple taps on the machine and selecting the desired cold one, the unit shows a QR code that the user scans with their app, and payment is made.

"Basically, we built these and tested them here," Capilnean said of the SXSW demo. It was the first time Civic ran sales and identity verification at once with the general public.

Though all transactions made through the app are settled in crypto, the idea is that users can interact with it fairly easily, just as they would in fiat. Civic first demoed its ability to verify ages with Anheuser-Busch at Consensus 2018, but this year the startup has upped that functionality by enabling sales via a mobile app.

Regulatory buy-in

Technical issues weren't the only hurdle the company had to overcome.

"We got the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to be on board with this happening," Capilnean said. Once state regulators were convinced, SXSW organizers felt comfortable with the product, too.

The priority, Capilnean said, was somehow making sure that people under 21 weren't drinking. From the Beverage Commission's perspective, it didn't matter if humans or machines did the proper verification.

While not disclosing potential partners, Capilnean said Civic is already in talks with companies that might contract with Civic in places where alcohol distribution could be improved. To take pressure off servers, sporting events and bars, for example, might be places that could use vending machines to verify age.

Still, Capilnean said Civic believes music festivals are the most immediate opportunity.

Civic vending machines. (Photo by Brady Dale for CoinDesk)


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