Skyhook is new to the bitcoin ATM-scape but is already interesting many with its first project – the first ever portable, open-source bitcoin ATM machine, with prices starting at $999.
The Portland-based manufacturer launched the machine on 12th May and demoed it at the Bitcoin2014 conference this weekend.
Existing manufacturers like Robocoin and Lamassu charge from $5,000 to $20,000 for an ATM that exchanges bitcoin for fiat currencies worldwide. Skyhook’s hardware and software are designed to make bitcoin more accessible to the masses, as well as existing bitcoin users. Chief operating officer Kyle Drake said:
“It's very difficult for non-experts to buy bitcoin in the United States and around the world right now, without a lot of work. There are some great bitcoin wallets out there, but most of them come with no way to buy bitcoin.”
There are online exchanges, but these will normally require the user to verify their identity and home address, and to use a (sometimes costly) bank transfer or credit card transaction to deposit fiat currency, before any bitcoin can be purchased.
If usability among the general population is what holds bitcoin back from wider adoption, as some digital currency enthusiasts have argued, developers will have to focus more on making existing technologies useful to main street consumers. Drake continued:
“We want to help solve the bitcoin purchasing problem by making it so anyone that wants to try and use bitcoin can just go to a nearby ATM, and get some with cash. The best way to do that is to make bitcoin ATMs affordable, so that anybody can get and use one. It's a great way for people to get comfortable using bitcoin.”
Small and light, the Skyhook ATM also makes it simple for bitcoin individual users and businesses of any scale to become an exchange, quickly and affordably. The ATM is sufficiently portable, Drake said, but also provides a durable security mounting plate to permanently attach the unit to something, if the user prefers a fixed location – and all with the same level of security.
Skyhook further gives merchants the option to generate revenue while protecting them from price volatility. The bitcoin price is set automatically using the major exchanges, and merchants can set a percentage rate and minimum price if so desired.