Beers and more for bitcoin at The Old Shoreditch Station

Friday 19 September 2014

The first live bitcoin atm as we now all know, launched in Vancouver late 2013, and by early 2014 the race was on. Who would be next?  By April a handful of atms were live, now five months later according to Coin Atm Radar there are over 230 Bitcoin atm machines in operation with more coming on line every week.

Old Shoreditch Station Britain’s first Bitcoin ATM was installed in the Old Shoreditch Station café and bar on March 4th. The café is known for its quirkiness and startup stories and was one of the first cafes to begin accepting Bitcoins in the capital, so it was the perfect place for a Bitcoin ATM. In one day, the Futurecoins ATM served over 50 customers with some users travelling over 150 miles in order to use it, proving its popularity with the public.

Over email, I had the chance to correspond with Nick Letford, the managing director and ask him a few questions.


BitScan: Why did you decide to install a Bitcoin ATM in your café?                                                      

Nick Lettford: “Our business was the first coffee shop in the UK to accept Bitcoin as a payment method, so it seemed like a logical next step to be the first to provide an ATM facility”

BitScan: What intrigues you about Bitcoin and why do you think it’s important to provide access to it?

NL: “Initially I was intrigued by bitcoin because the person who communicated its function to me, mis-represented the mechanic's of the bitcoin mining process. He had confused the recent developments in science which involve crowd sourcing the calculation of complex mathematical equations to help solve bigger problems i.e. deconstructing virus geneomes etc.

Being a self-confessed science fiction enthusiast/Trekkie I was immediately excited by the idea of a self governed currency that contributes to advances in science. However upon investigating further I discovered that, when the media continually refer to 'complex mathematical equations' that generate bit coins, these would be better described as 'codes' or puzzles that require cracking. With bitcoin mining being a process that involves racing other miners to see who can crack the generated code first and in turn be rewarded with a bitcoin.

However in spite of over romanticising the concept, I was and am still fascinated by the notion of a currency that is the financial equivalent of the Internet, or at least the Internet as it should be. The idea of a entirely borderless digital currency that is notarised and governed by the people who use it rather than by a national institution. I am fascinated by the whole Ayn Rand philosophy of objectivism. Which informs this type of self governance. That's not to say I am entirely convinced by all of her philosophy but as a secular futurist, I find them extremely interesting .

BitScan: How do you think a bitcoin ATM will be an asset to your business?

NL: “My business at large, Jaguar Shoes Collective, take a good deal of pride in being ahead of the curve in regards to every aspect of popular culture; design art photography fashion music... so our attitude to emerging technologies is no different.

Obviously from a purely economic standpoint I hope that it will drive custom within the store, but more importantly, I hope that it will communicate what kind of business we are to the world and attract like-minded customers.

Shoreditch is a popular destination for international travel, and a centre of commerce within the technologies industry, so we hope that the bitcoin services we provide will make it easy for customers who already use the technology to come and be involved, while also demonstrating to other customers & retailers just how simple and easy bitcoin is on both a operational and customer service level.”

BitScan: What do you hope this might promote or encourage?

“We hope to promote and encourage the public at large to consider the merits of bitcoin as both a currency and as a payment method. It may well be the case that, in the future bitcion turns out to be the Betamax of digital currencies, it may not, but right now that is not really what's important. Getting behind bitcoin will drive the concept of a global borderless self-government digital currency forward, and it seems logical that this is the way ahead for human economics, even if it sits alongside established currencies.”

The Old Shoreditch”s ATM installation marks the beginning of bitcoins becoming more widely acknowledged in the greater community and being made more accessible for the masses. It won’t be the last ATM installed in Great Britain, it was simply smart enough to push ahead and be the first. Hopefully, this wave will continue and make Bitcoin more a part of everyday life.

Now go and visit the Old Shoreditch Station café for a coffee and some Bitcoins!

Tabitha Wilson

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