Low Cost Open Source Bitcoin ATM On The Horizon
Bitcoin ATMs seem to be popping up all over the these days. Well, at the least the talk about a Bitcoin ATM coming to a convenient spot near you. However, manufacturers of these ATMs are confident about the demand for it – if not right now then at least in the future. There are newcomers to the Bitcoin ATM scene and one new manufacturer of note is Skyhook.
Looking Beyond The Price
Most Bitcoiners are familiar with Lamassu and Robocoin when you talk about Bitcoin ATM manufacturers. The prices of the units from these two leading Bitcoin ATM manufacturers are vast. Lamassu’s unit costs around $5,000 while a Robocoin Bitcoin ATM can set you back as much as $20,000. Naturally there are opportunities for budget machines on the lower end of the price scale.
It seems that Skyhook plans to fill this gap with its machine costing just $1,000. A whopping 2.5% of the Robocoin ATM price tag. Or another way of looking at it – 20 Skyhook ATMs for the cost of just 1 Robocoin ATM. Of course it is not an entirely a price issue and the price of the Robocoin ATM is justified when you look at the specs.
Two-Way and One-Way Machines
Robocoin’s ATM works two ways – you can deposit cash and have it converted into Bitcoin, or withdraw Bitcoin from your wallet and get cash in your hand at the machine. Lamassu’s machine works only one way – deposit cash and have it credited to your online Bitcoin wallet. Currently Skyhook is also a one-way machine like Lamassu’s unit.
There has been some criticism about the use of the word ATM to describe these one-way machines. It does not dispense fiat currency. Cash withdrawals are what defines a traditional ATM, not its ability to accept deposits. Many feel that these one-way Bitcoin ATMs should be viewed as nothing more than a vending machine. It takes you cash and gives you Bitcoin.
ATMs Not Yet Available
Founder of Skyhook, Joe Hannis, says that the objective is not to make money from the sale of its Bitcoin ATMs. Instead Hannis wants to play his part in promoting Bitcoin adoption. He believes that the more Bitcoin ATMs that are available, the more likely people will be to delve into the cryptocurrency. However, his ultra cheap Bitcoin ATMs will not be seen at a store near you anytime soon.
The Skyhook ATM is still in the development stage. The whole idea is that the development for the ATM will be ongoing and done by the community rather than only by a small team of in-house developers. Skyhook will only start taking orders once the kinks are ironed out and it is at a point where it can supply in accordance with customer demand. Once available, Skyhook ATMs can be purchased using Bitcoin.
But it is not just the software. Even the hardware can be modified. While this is exciting news in the Bitcoin community, it is important to realize that having these machines at every corner store is not going to happen overnight. We have already seen some governments, like Taiwan, warn against Bitcoin and essentially block these machines from operating within their respective countries.
Even if authorities change their attitude towards Bitcoin and develop a regulatory framework for the cryptocurrency, it is unlikely to instantly open the doors for ATMs. There is now talk about BitLicenses in New York City and the often the slow bureaucratic processes means that even with a licensing system in place, those interested in hosting a Bitcoin ATM will unlikely be able to do so anytime soon.