Robocoin, which introduced the first bitcoin ATM, is planning to flip the switch on a new technology that will enable the machines to become independent bank branches, the company announced Thursday.
The Las Vegas-based company first debuted the 750-pound ATM for the cryptocurrency in October 2013, which allows users to trade cash for bitcoin and vice versa by providing an email, their palm print, government identification, a facial scan and cash.
Now the ATMs will act as a place to store bitcoin, taking the responsibility off consumers.
“Robocoin will be controlling the coins and private keys,” says CEO Jordan Kelley. “We can move it to and from anyone in the Robocoin kiosks. This makes it more friendly and secure for the masses. The reason my dad, mom, sister and grandma don’t use bitcoin right now is because they were freaking out about owning and storing their digital wallet—it’s not easy enough.”
A major concern of bitcoin users is misplacing their digital wallet and keys, which may make accounts null and void. The digital currency was introduced as an open source software code in 2009, but has since grown into a $1 billion industry, and is especially popular among members of the tech community.
Bitcoin is currently unregulated, but calls for government scrutiny have increased after MtGox, the largest bitcoin exchange, lost $620 million in bitcoin and filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan in February.
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Robocoin operates on the Bitstamp and Vault of Satoshi Exchanges today, Kelley says.
The ATMs retail at $20,000 a piece, and the company has sold more than 100. Right now, 35 are active globally with six locations in the U.S. However, just because a business owns a bitcoin ATM, doesn’t mean it necessarily accept the currency.
The businesses who own these ATMs also have to adhere to anti-money laundering laws.
“Any person who buys a bitcoin is in the business of selling bitcoin for cash and cash for bitcoin,” he says. “We give the operator the option to buy a lifetime license, for $10,000, instead of paying fees. For consumers, the fees are from 3% to 5%, which will go down overtime.”
The new technology is like a “bank in a box” Kelley says, but there are no plans for physical bank locations in the future.
People cashing out their bitcoins through online exchanges, currently have to wait days to get their funds. With the new upgrade machine, those with bitcoin wallets and accounts can cash out within seconds, Kelley says.