Bitcoin is a new and rapidly maturing technology. Thankfully, the Millenial crowd has readily embraced it as a means for economic and social innovation. The brilliance and creativity of those involved in Bitcoin, is stunning.
For those unfamiliar with Bitcoin, check out these resources.
Not too long ago, Bitcoin users realized the need to introduce a machine equivalent to the banking system’s ATMs. This machine would, ideally, allow anyone to exchange the currency of their choice for bitcoin, or exchange bitcoin for currency. These machines are each managed locally by different operators.
On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, a Bitcoin ATM made its first official appearance on Capital Hill. Robocoin, one of the few companies manufacturing Bitcoin ATMs, brought the machine to Congress to educate our Congressional critters about Bitcoin technology and assure them that it is safe and secure. The Robocoin team showed the impressive crowd how the ATM works and allowed anyone who wanted to, to make a transaction. Congressman Polis, who seems a staunch supporter of the new technology, spoke about the merits of the new machines and how important it is to keep this technology available to people without undue burdens.
While Bitcoin itself is still a relatively new technology, the Bitcoin ATM is even more of a fledgling technology. Even with the novelty of it, a couple Congressmen created accounts on the machine—which gives them access to any of the machines worldwide—and bought bitcoin using the ATM. The founders of Robocoin, Jordan Kelly and John Russell, (who were both present and answering questions from the crowd) have done a fantastic job with integrating the security and ease necessary to make the machine highly adaptable and desirable anywhere.
I got the chance to set up an account with the ATM, which gives me access to the system worldwide. As a bonus, I bought some bitcoin using the machine. The process was impressively simple. Whether you currently hold Bitcoin, transact in it, or are a non-participatory observer, the ease, simplicity and security of the ATM offers a new outlet for anyone to get started with Bitcoin and easy access to an exchange.
The sign-up process (video below) involves a three-step set-up, which is entirely encrypted. To create an account, you enter your phone number, verify it when the text message arrives and create a pin. Once that is done the machine conducts a palm scan and photo ID scan and completes the process with taking your picture. The machine does this all in about 2 minutes with super easy-to-follow instructions. Once complete, it asks you to wait 5 minutes (but it really only took about 1 minute) to verify your account. Once my account was active, I gave the machine my cash, scanned my wallet QR code and had the bitcoin within moments downloaded to my phone.
Bitcoin as a currency is fascinating! The potential of a peer-to-peer monetary system is incredible. The innovation brought by the emerging technologies around Bitcoin is even more fascinating!
Robocoin has a few competitors, but Robocoin is the only company that have brought the Bitcoin ATM to Congress! While this individual machine does not yet have a permanent home in DC, the co-founders of the company are working with Bitcoin Solutions DC to find the perfect permanent home for it so the machine can help Bitcoin fanatics as well as new folks just getting started.
Bitcoin is here to stay. Thankfully, creative minds, like those at Robocoin have developed tools such as this machine, to bring it to a greater audience and serve all Bitcoin users. I’m looking forward to seeing many of the machines soon in my neighborhood. Imagine if all the farmers markets took Bitcoin and we had these machines in every city to ease the bitcoin transaction process… The potential is there, and many are working to make it a reality!
Wherever you are in your personal journey toward clean living and local food, thank you for joining me in mine. I look forward to sharing it with you.