According to an announcement on Feb 18, Robocoin is about to roll out ATM-like kiosks in the U.S. that will allow users to make deposits and withdrawals in Bitcoin currency. The machines will have scanners to verify account holder identification and are expected to go into service in Seattle and in Austin, Tex., by the end of February. If previous predictions are any indication, that deadline will be tough to meet, however.
Las Vegas-based Robocoin installed its first kiosk last October in Vancouver, BC. The machine was the first of its kind in the world and gave users the ability to exchange Bitcoins for fiat currency and vice-versa. Users must provide identification and have their palm print scanned to perform transactions. Canadian law limits the amount of transactions to $2,700 (US) per day. Robocoin is planning to roll out more machines in Canada, Europe and Asia this year.
Robocoin has a couple of programs to encourage interested people to help the company get more of its ATMs out in public. Ambassadors promote and sell the machines to prospective customers and provide support after an ATM is in production. Operators set up the machines in their businesses and get a percentage of each transaction. No one is allowed to be both an ambassador and an operator at the same time.
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Several challenges may stand in the way of Robocoin’s long-term success. CEO Jordan Kelley stated in September that the company expected to have several machines in production in the U.S. by January. So far that prediction has not come true, and there are fewer than 10 days left for the Austin and Seattle installations to be operational.
In all fairness, this may be due to American financial regulations and beyond Robocoin’s control, but the company now has to deal with more competition. Enchanted Bitcoins has already installed a Bitcoin ATM in Albuquerque, NM, that is operational, a permanent installation and compliant with FinCEN regulations.
This machine was made by Lamassu Bitcoin Ventures, which emphasizes speed and simplicity. Their machines only convert fiat currency to Bitcoins and avoid using credit or debit cards, thus subjecting them to fewer regulations. Users display a QR code from their smartphone, which gets scanned before a transaction can go through.
While Robocoin’s machines offer more features, it’s conceivable that this convenience is subjecting them to more regulations and holding up their planned rollouts. If it can overcome this and provide more flexibility transaction-wise than the Lamassu machine, Robocoin should be able to catch up.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson
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