Bitcoin ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) have been popping up all over the world. Hong Kong, Australia, Dubai, and America, among other places, have operating Bitcoin ATMs. These ATMs have only become widespread in the past few months and are a very new and incomplete technology. Now, they’re coming to Africa.
Coming to Africa
[dropcap size=”small”]B[/dropcap]itcoin’s first ATM in the vast continent of Africa is expected to be opened to the public in late May. The ATM will be owned by ZABitcoinATM. The first ATM will come to Johannesburg, South Africa. A second one, which will come a month after the first, will be installed in Cape Town, South Africa. The announcement of the ATM came from ZABitcoinATM on Twitter:
A more in-depth description of the ATMs was posted on Bitcoin Talk, a Bitcoin discussion forum, by zabitcoinatm. The ATM will be the popular Lamassu Bitcoin ATM machine. Lamassu boasts, “No Banks. No Forms. No Wait. Fiat to Bitcoin in fifteen seconds.” Lamassu ATMs are currently $6,500 if you buy 1-9 machines, or $5,500 for ten or more.
Problems with Bitcoin ATMs
Caleb Chen, a fellow writer at CryptoCoinsNews, had a first-hand experience of using a Bitcoin ATM. He described the delay of using one and explained the process. After you wait in the possibly lengthy line at the ATM for your turn, you must go through multiple steps to verify your identity. As described by Chen,
New users of the Robocoin ATM need to submit a telephone number for activation and notifications, government ID, palm scan, and current photo via the ATM’s webcam. After submission, the “application” is reviewed automatically, and most often requires manual verification to verify that the government ID’s picture and the current webcam picture match up. You then have to relinquish your spot in line, depending how considerate of the line behind you are, until your new account with Robocoin is verified.
Chen used the Robocoin Bitcoin ATM to sell Bitcoins to the ATM, and believes he is the first person to sell Bitcoin to a Bitcoin ATM in the USA.
As Bitcoin becomes more integrated with the world, technologies like Bitcoin ATMs will be used to buy and sell Bitcoins to the general public. These technologies may be vital to the success of Bitcoin.
Image courtesy of Lamassu.