Sydney's first bitcoin ATM opens to the public

Friday 28 March 2014

Sydney’s first bitcoin ATM launched yesterday to a small crowd at the hip, new eaterie, Black Star Pastry and Café in Rosebery.

Joe Richards, BitRocket on BitScanJoe Richards, founder of BitRocket Capital, proudly demonstrated the new machine, which allows customers to convert cash into bitcoin in a couple of quick, easy steps, without the hassle of going through an exchange. He believes ATMs are the missing link in the adoption of bitcoin and will help make acquiring bitcoin much easier.

“Many people have heard about bitcoin and would like to try the peer-to-peer bank-less currency without the hassle and risk of arranging meet-ups or transferring money to foreign exchanges,” explained Joe. “BitRocket makes buying bitcoin easy. Traditional ATMs withdraw money - with bitcoin, you are your bank, and so depositing is the true key part of the puzzle.”

The ATM works by depositing cash into the machine and scanning the QR code to receive coins on your wallet. The transaction, they claim, “takes only 15 seconds”.

This was successfully put to the test when Sydney businessman, Shannon Murray bought his first bitcoins using the ATM, stating that it was, “very quick and straightforward.”

BitScan at bitcoin ATM launch

With bitcoin’s constantly fluctuating value, BitRocket use an average price taken from various exchanges, gathered through BitPay. “When someone puts Australian dollars into our machine, we have to convert those into US dollars so we still have to pay bank fees,” explained Joe, “but effectively you’re only paying a few per cent and have the convenience of buying your bitcoin and being able to walk away straight away.”

BitRocket are adhering to anti-money laundering regulations that mean no one can withdraw any more than $10,000 worth of bitcoins at any one time, but they are hoping to cap this amount to nearer $5,000. The cash will cover the cost to BitRocket of supplying the bitcoins but, “The idea is that there will be a bit left over to make this a business we can expand,” said Joe.          

They are hoping to place up to 20 more machines in total, focusing on cafes, pubs and shopping malls. “I want to focus on places where people would like to spend time anyway so they can spend some time considering their possible bitcoin purchase and actually be able to use it straight away as well so they can buy a coffee or give some to their friends,” Joe told us.

Many small businesses are starting to see the advantages of accepting bitcoin, including the zero fraud or charge-back risks and the opportunity to expand to a wider, global market. Black Star Pastry and Café has come on board, and owner, Chris Thé, said, "Accepting bitcoin was an easy decision, we like to innovate and experiment and saw several upsides of accepting bitcoin and hosting the ATM. Adding convenience to our customers and suppliers requires virtually no extra effort on our part.”

BitRocket’s ATMs will not only be found in Sydney. Eventually they hope to have the kiosks nationwide in Australia and even overseas. They are currently talking to people in Cape Town to see about placing a BitRocket ATM over there. They also plan to work alongside other ATM providers to help streamline certain BitRocket services such as finding the best currency rates, accounting and security.

Bitcoin ATM launchAs well as the convenience for potential bitcoin customers, Joe also hopes it will encourage the more charitable side to bitcoiners and has placed a ‘donation menu’ next to the ATM, which allows people to quickly donate a few bitcoins to one of the charities on the board. It is another benefit of bitcoin, which they hope to promote, which enables people to donate small amounts without paying more in banking fees than the donation itself.

The Lamassu machines currently only offer a one-way transaction, from fiat to bitcoin. Other ATMs such as Robocoin exist, which offer a two-way exchange but also require a lot of extra security measures such as Government ID and a palm print, but it is something, which BitRocket may look into acquiring in the future.

Louise Goss

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