UPDATE (30th November 12:03am GMT): Robocoin’s comments have been added.
A former Robocoin operator in the UK has ‘hacked’ its bitcoin ATM machines to run on software from rival manufacturer Lamassu.
The operator, SatoshiPoint, has installed a system that runs on Lamassu software, bypassing the original Robocoin system. The machine can still buy bitcoin but it has lost its ability to sell bitcoin and dispense fiat currency.
SatoshiPoint’s four Robocoin machines were remotely disabled by the manufacturer on 7th November after it refused to use the company’s updated operating system. The new operating system requires ATM customers to use a Robocoin wallet system which SatoshiPoint’s founders opposed on the grounds that it centralised customer funds.
“We’re not going to just sit there with dead empty hardware. We need to have [the machines] running,” said Jonathan James Harrison, a SatoshiPoint co-founder.
Robocoin chief executive Jordan Kelley welcomed SatoshiPoint’s move, saying that it was a sign of healthy competition in the bitcoin ATM industry.
“We support the competition – it’s great for the market. We’re neither upset nor hold a grudge,” Kelley said.
Kelley added that new Robocoin operators are “fully aligned” with his firm’s updated operating system. The new system is more stable and has resulted in fewer technical complaints from operators, he said.
Lamassu solution available at a price
SatoshiPoint owns a Lamassu unit in addition to its four Robocoins. Harrison said he had assistance from Lamassu’s customer service manager Neal Conner to get the software installed on three of his machines. The final machine will run Lamassu software by the end of next week, he said.
In a video of the new Robocoin machine uploaded to YouTube by Harrison, viewers are told that they can order a hard-drive containing the adapted Lamassu software for their own Robocoin machines for 0.25 BTC. The request must be sent to an account supplied by privacy-centric email provider Hushmail.
“It’s a way for anyone to get hold of this in a simple way,” Harrison said of the hard-drives for sale.
When asked if the Hushmail account is controlled by SatoshiPoint, Harrison would only say: “It’s not a Satoshipoint email address, is it?”
Lamassu’s software is open-source, so it is available for public use. Harrison said that the ATM manufacturer would make the adapted software publicly available as well, although he did not know when it would do so.
Lamassu co-founder Zach Harvey said his firm helped with “minor issues” to get its software running on the SatoshiPoint machines. The Lamassu software remains largely unaltered, he said.
Harvey said he hoped operators would contribute to this adaptation of Lamassu software with installation guides and scripts. He also said he believed operators wanted control over their machines, without interference from ATM makers.
“I believe many operators prefer a greater level of control over machines they bought rather than being controlled by the manufacturer,” he said.
Harrison said he is working to enable bitcoin-selling on his modified Robocoin machines, again based on existing Lamassu software. SatoshiPoint operates two machines in London, one in Bristol and another in Manchester.
Another modification kit
The adapted Lamassu software running on Harrison’s machines is not the only way to modify a Robocoin machine. General Bytes, another manufacturer, sells a ‘kit’ to bypass Robocoin software for $500. It also only allows bitcoin-buying, although it promises a two-way ATM solution will arrive in February. The only other missing feature with General Bytes is the hand palm scanner, which is due to the technology’s expensive licensing.
Harrison launched a campaign against Robocoin’s new operating system at the beginning of this month. He called on his fellow operators to turn off their machines to protest Robocoin’s move to make the new operating system mandatory. He said he opposed the move because it centralised customer funds.
Robocoin has claimed the update is necessary for operators to comply with anti-money laundering and ‘know-your-customer’ rules. The Las Vegas-based company was at the centre of a furore over delayed and damaged goods when a disgruntled customer complained publicly on Reddit.
Featured image via SatoshiPoint