Las Vegas-based startup Robocoin has partnered with Canadian company Bitcoiniacs to launch the first bitcoin-based ATM in Vancouver.
Speaking from the launch at Waves Coffee House, where the ATM is located, Robocoin CEO Jordan Kelley said: “It’s been a crazy day. I can’t even tell you how incredible it is. There’s a line in front of the machine right now.”
Kelley’s goal for Robocoin’s ATMs is to get bitcoin usage to the masses.
“Robocoin has the first bidirectional bitcoin ATM. That means it gives customers the easiest way to buy and sell bitcoins. Signing up for accounts on exchanges is arduous. You have to have bank account information. That’s what kind of holds bitcoin back from mass adoption,” he says.
“You can literally walk up to the machine, scan your hand, and get started with bitcoin.”
The palm scanner is a way to identify a person’s bitcoin activity and to regulate the daily transaction limit, which in Canada is $3,000.
The great thing about the palm scanner, says Kelley, is that though it identifies the ATM user, it remains an anonymous method to transact in BTC.
“Walk up to the machine, tap buy or sell, scan your hand to create a unique ID, but with anonymity,” he says.
The company is currently using Bitstamp to process transactions, but it has been experimenting with others as well.
“We’re experimenting with Mt. Gox, but we don’t recommend it outside of Japan,” says Kelley.
Robocoin’s business model is to partner with local operators who know a country or region. The company’s focus is selling the ATM units, and then using a consultative approach with its partners.
“Our model is selling hardware to operators,” says Kelley. “Operators have a much better understanding of their environment. We partner with operators with software services and KYC [know your customer] compliance.”
Canada is an ideal place for the world’s first bitcoin ATM because the government there has taken a wait-and-see approach on any sort of regulatory measures on bitcoin. The local operator, Bitcoiniacs, even has a storefront on First Avenue in Vancouver offering customers bitcoin-based services.
“In Canada, bitcoin is more of a commodity. The government’s thinking is: Let’s get a good understanding of what’s going on before making any decisions,” says Robocoin’s Kelley. “Our focus is working hand in hand with governments,”.
As CoinDesk’s Danny Bradbury previously reported in September, Bitcoiniacs has purchased five ATM units from Robocoin.
The plan to implement the four others in various Canadian cities is still on track for this year, according to Kelly.
Check out the Robocoin ATM in action in the video below:
What do you think about a bitcoin ATM? If there was a bitcoin ATM near you, would you use it? Let us know in the comments.