This weeks marks America's acceptance of Bitcoin ATMs, with Bitcoin ATMs popping up in Albuqueque, Boston, and now Austin.
As many Bitcoiners have already started reporting on /r/Bitcoin and Twitter, the first bi-directional Bitcoin ATM in the United States opened yesterday at 2PM at Austin's Handlebar bar. Many Austin natives, such as the man pictured below, lined up for the opportunity to buy Bitcoins from this new machine; however, few sellers were to be found.
Good thing my friend from the Houston Bitcoin Meetup and I had driven up to Austin just for this momentous moment in Bitcoin history.
Selling Bitcoin to a Bitcoin ATM
Selling Bitcoin to a Robocoin ATM is a much longer process than buying Bitcoin.
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.
After the account was finally verified and I was notified by text on my phone, I approached the Bitcoin ATM again and selected the Sell Bitcoin option. After selecting a USD valued amount that I wanted to sell, I was presented with a Bitcoin Sale Ticket.
I used my mobile wallet to send Bitcoins to the top QR Code and proceeded to scan the bottom QR Code in the Robocoin ATM's QR Code reader. This is where I was greeted with a long delay...
Here is the transaction from my wallet to the Robocoin Bitcoin ATM.
Waiting for one confirmation...
I've previously stated that there is a mathematically secure way to accept zero confirmation transactions. This method is currently being used by BitPay and has undoubtedly been worked on by their core Bitcoin developer: Jeff Garzik.
Robocoin Bitcoin ATMs, even without a mathematically secure way to accept zero confirmation transactions, should still accept zero confirmation transactions. Robocoin literally has all the information necessary to prosecute anybody that manages to get a double spend through the network. I estimate that thousands of man hours have already been wasted by people waiting for confirmations at Bitcoin ATMs. I understand the delay to verify my identity for initial setup but a repeating lengthy delay of up to an hour is not my idea of a smooth, quick ATM visit.
After another hour, I made my way back to the Robocoin ATM to receive my USD.
Finally, after over an hour, the first Bitcoin sale to a Bitcoin ATM on American soil was completed.
As the CEO of Robocoin told TechCrunch's John Biggs in the initial announcement of America's first bi-directional Bitcon ATM,
“Robocoin will be EVERYWHERE! We’ve just arrived in Texas and have already shipped to Seattle, Washington and Alberta, Canada,”
I must agree. Though Lamassu Bitcoin ATMs have shipped to locations in Albuquerque and Boston and have been in operation for longer (just a few days really) than the Austin Robocoin ATM, it bears reminding that Lamassu ATMs are uni-directional. Robocoin Bitcoin ATMs are bi-directional; not surprisingly, the price tag for a Robocoin Bitcoin ATM is roughly 4 to 5 times that of a Lamassu Bitcoin ATM. Both of which are equally more expensive than open-source uni-directional Bitcoin ATMs that are in development all over the world. Robocoin offers this strong list of improvements over other Bitcoin ATM brands; a list that includes regulatory compliance and fraud protection.
The BIG Picture: Bitcoin in Texas
At the unveiling of Texas's first Bitcoin ATM, and the first bi-directional Bitcoin ATM in America, I had the opportunity to meet Paul Snow, the president of the Texas Bitcoin Association (TBA). The TBA is hosting the Texas Bitcoin Conference on March 5th and 6th. Without sounding like a braggart, the Texas Bitcoin Conference will be the largest Bitcoin Conference to date. The list of speakers is extensive, in fact there are so many that the conference actually features two separate tracks with simultaneous talks to reach as many Bitcoiners as possible.
Mr. Snow was at the Bitcoin ATM promoting his event to the local community and showcased classic Bitcoiner generosity when he used the Robocoin Bitcoin ATM to buy $5 of Bitcoin, and used the Bitcoin ATM to send the newly purchased Bitcoins right to Sean's Outpost.
Also in attendance at Handlebar was Jordan Kelley of Robocoin, whom flew over from Las Vegas to personally tend to the first American Robocoin Bitcoin ATM.
As of this writing, Handlebar does not yet accept Bitcoin. I expect this to change promptly.