Could Bitcoin “ATM” Machines Be the Banking of the Future?

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Bitcoin continues to make headway towards becoming a more widely accepted and circulated currency. Currently, a small number of companies have begun to set up physical Bitcoin brokerage firms, and one company in Canada is even going as far as setting up machines that will essentially act as Bitcoin ATM machines! “Bitcoiniacs” now plans to install five Bitcoin “kiosks” that will allow people to exchange cash for Bitcoins in five major Canadian cities.

These kiosks will make it easier for people to conduct trading. Previously, a Bitcoin trader had to either sign up for an online Bitcoin exchange, a slow process that can take several days. The only other option was to buy Bitcoins off of individual users. Buying off users, however, can increase the risks of getting ripped off. Bitcoin brokers, such as Bitcoiniacs, can provide a sort of middle ground. These reputed dealers can clear transactions quicker than many online exchanges, and also provide more security than transactions with private users.

The kiosks will allow people to both buy and sell Bitcoins. A person can deposit money into the machine and then using a smart phone, they can scan a QR code. Once the code is scanned, the appropriate amount of Bitcoins will be deposited in the user’s account. A person can also sell Bitcoins and withdraw Canadian cash at the kiosks.

So far, Bitcoiniacs plans to have one ATM machine installed in Vancouver, while the other four machines will be installed elsewhere across Canada. The exact location for the other machines remains unknown, however, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and other major Canadian cities are being vetted. The machines are being manufactured by a Los Vegas based company called “Robocoin” and could potentially revolutionize the entire Bitcoin ecosystem.

Indeed, if Bitcoin ATMs become common in other major cities across the globe, it’s even possible that they could become a popular form of currency for international travelers. People would be able to feel secure that their wealth would be largely protected from petty crimes, such as pick pocketing, and able to withdraw funds in local currencies across the globe. For now, however, Bitcoin will likely remain largely relegated to online trading and purchasing.

Robocoin is also working on installing 10 to 15 Bitcoin machines in major cities within the United States, however concrete plans have not yet been drawn up. The company hopes to start installing machines within the States by the end of 2013 or sometime in the beginning of 2014. So far, Robocoin has received inquires from companies across the world, but has not received additional sales orders (or at least isn’t releasing this info).

Either way, the installation and use of Bitcoin kiosks will mark a major milestone for the cryptocurrency. Such efforts could also increase the public perception and awareness of the currency and help drive efforts to increase its acceptance, especially at brick and mortar stores. Further, such kiosks might lead to future developments, such as Bitcoin based debit cards and credit cards.

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Brian Booker

An international financial analyst and writer. He has consulted for the Malaysian government, various MNC's, and other organisations. He focuses on currencies, commodities, and emerging South East Asian markets.

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