Bitcoin ATM Lands In Texas: Robocoin Debuts Bi-Directional Bitcoin ATM

on February 19 2014 12:49 PM
bitcoin2-13_David Ryder-WIRED
How a transaction looks on the Robocoin bitcoin ATM Courtesy Robocoin

The United States is getting its first bitcoin ATM on Thursday. Bitcoin ATM manufacturer Robocoin is launching its ATM hardware in Austin, Texas, at the downtown bar HandleBar.

“Austin is one of the coolest cities in the world. It’s a tech hub, and we’re excited to launch a month before South by Southwest,” Robocoin CEO Jordan Kelley said in a statement. Last October, Robocoin made headlines by launching the world’s first bitcoin ATM that can buy and sell the virtual currency, at Waves Coffee Shop in Vancouver, Canada.

“Robocoin No. 2 has arrived in Texas and is one day away from launching,” Kelley stated Wednesday. The U.S. debut will mark the beginning of a world tour of launches for the Las Vegas-based company. “Austin is also geographically centralized – right at America’s 50-yard line. It’s a perfect starting point for the USA as we start placing machines everywhere,” he added.

Robocoin has plans to launch bitcoin machines in Asia and Europe, as well as other cities in the United States and Canada. Bitcoin ATMs have already been shipped to Seattle and to Alberta, Canada.

Bitcoin ATM maker Lammasu announced in mid-January that its hardware would be the first Bitcoin ATM in the U.S., debuting in a bubble tea shop in New York City. But anti-money laundering regulations prevented the launch. Robocoin’s hardware is different as it is AML-compliant.

Robocoin requires multilevel authentication to use its ATM. Users create an account with the ATM, which takes an average of five minutes. The ATM combines biometric authentication, in the form of palm vein scanning, and government-issued identification, like a passport or driver’s license, to vet users. Names also are run through a global terrorist tracking list. “Robocoin was built to adhere to FinCEN law, anti money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance. These are fully integrated operator options with consumer protection in mind,” states Kelley.

Robocoin sets itself apart by not only giving users the opportunity to buy bitcoin, but to sell their bitcoin too; withdrawals are delivered in local currency. The ATM allows users to turn their bitcoin into cash and vice versa. If a user doesn’t have an online bitcoin wallet, like Coinbase or Blockchain, the ATM will print out a paper wallet with a unique address and private key. The paper wallet is tracked in the logs of the ATM, meaning it is recoverable if it is lost. The bitcoin blockchain, the public ledger that tracks all bitcoin transactions, can be used to verify if the funds have been moved, which protects operators as well as end users.

“HandleBar is your neighborhood bar in downtown Austin with an old school vibe and absolutely no moustache decor whatsoever — absolutely none, we mean it,” reads HandleBar’s website. “We serve up good times by the glass with a local beer selection and our craft cocktails. Our bar has an outdoor deck, awesomely fun games like giant Jenga and a photo booth to snag pics of your current moustache of choice.”

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