Bitcoin is coming to ATM machines!

Bitcoin, the emerging if still somewhat mysterious digital currency, may be coming soon to a high-tech ATM near you.
Kiosks that allow people to choose the virtual coins, or exchange them for cash, is going to be installed within the next month roughly in Seattle and Austin, Texas, according to Robocoin, the Las Vegas-based company which makes the machines.
They will be the initial such ATMs in the United States. Robocoin has installed machines in Vancouver, British Columbia, with an increase of in Canada, Hong Kong, Europe and Asia in the works.
The emergence of public ATMs, the business says, is a step toward making Bitcoin, a currency that’s not backed by a government or bank and has no physical assets to prop up its value, a far more comfortable buy for main-stream users outside the Webcentric circles where it currently thrives.
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“We think it’s a huge breakthrough when it comes to bringing option of the consumers, ” Robocoin CEO Jordan Kelley said.
Since its inception in ’09, Bitcoin has fluctuated wildly in value. Currently, an individual Bitcoin is worth about $636. That value was as high as $1, 000 in December as investors began leaping into the currency.
Some traditional businesses, including on line retailer Overstock. com, some Subway sandwich shops and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, have begun accepting Bitcoin.
But the anonymous nature of the currency also has linked it with less reputable outlets. Bitcoin and other digital “cryptocurrencies” have been the de facto payment system on underground websites that deal in drugs, weapons along with other illegal merchandise.
Last week, the anonymous owners of black-market website Silk Road announced that hackers had stolen $2. 7 million worth of Bitcoin. In split up incidents, a few online Bitcoin exchanges have been taken down by code hackers who exploited a flaw to create fake transactions.
Kelley wants his company’s machines to help the currency shed its shadier associations, even though that means alienating some supporters who like the mostly anonymous nature of Bitcoin exchanges.
“We’re trying to move Bitcoin, put it in the main-stream, bring it to the masses, ” he said. “To do that, some things have to go by the wayside, and one of them is anonymity. ”
To create a Robocoin account, an user enters their mobile phone number at among the kiosks. The machine sends a code to that phone and, after the user enters the code, they are asked to scan the palm of these hand.
“Your phone can be your user ID and your palm is your password, ” Kelly said.
The user is then asked to insert a driver’s license or other government-issued ID, further personalizing their account as well as providing Robocoin an opportunity to verify the user’s name against government watch lists for terrorists or others who may maybe not legally conduct business in the machine’s home country.
Then, the user requires a photo at the kiosk, which must be verified as a match with the picture on their ID card.
Once their account is verified, a process Kelley said takes two to 5 minutes, they are free to buy Bitcoins at the kiosk. customers may either transfer them to an account, using a private code the machine dispenses, or use a smartphone app to store them on their phone.
Robocoin sells the machines for $20, 000. Owners make money by charging a little transaction fee to use them, Kelley said.

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