Video by Cash2BTC
Cyprus never saw its bitcoin ATM arrive. Jeff Berwick and his company, Bitcoin ATM, insisted the nation, embroiled in harsh economic circumstances—would be the first to see a bi-lateral bitcoin machine in action. Berwick was eventually forced by a 23-year old to leave the project. For a moment, it seemed a mainstream future of cash-to-bitcoin-and-back was waiting just a few steps ahead.
While we have yet to see Bitcoin ATM's machine pop up in Cyprus, I can't keep from knocking on wood when I say there are alternatives that beckon our attention.
Sean Scappaticci and Matt Hollander of Cash2BTC have made a bitcoin "dispenser." It simply accepts cash and dispenses bitcoin. Yes, there are other ponies that do the same trick, but this one may take the crown for most portable.
Bundling a piece of Windows software with a USB-supported bill-reader for $752, the team is staking out the discount corner of cash-to-bitcoin functionality. In the above video, Sean demonstrates how one might stuff the system into a briefcase with a little netbook—a concoction the Colorado Springs duo endearingly calls the 'Snuke.' Remember that South Park episode?
I may have friends that I can offer cash in lieu of their bitcoins, but if those friends were interested in selling bitcoins more frequently (and to total strangers), the team's Snuke could be a great set up for them.
Sure, it may look sinister: A guy popping open a briefcase on a park bench and asking you if you'd like to "learn about bitcoin" or "insert your bills in my briefcase for bitcoins," but I supposed it'd all depend on how you go about engaging people in the park. Because the bulk of what Cash2BTC provides is the software needed to perform transactions, where the bill reader goes and where you get your Internet is all up to you.
This morning, I spoke with Sean, who learned about bitcoin just weeks before the 2013 bitcoin convention in San Jose. Having finished the machine just a few days before the conference, Sean told me he stuffed the dispenser under his arm and headed out west. It's been a couple months since that first trip, and Sean says the bitcoin ATM market is still promising.
Motherboard: Who are you guys and how does your business work?
Sean Scappaticci: We are an LLC co-founded by myself and one other. We sell the software and hardware to create a bitcoin ATM from any Windows computer for the smallest expense possible. My co-founder manages the server that does the bitcoin trading and transfers and extracts the fee that whoever owns our ATM has set beforehand on a percentage basis. I'm in charge of marketing and helped to facilitate the original software design.
"It gives you the customizability to fit the entire thing in a suitcase if you were of a different business model."
Have you guys shown off your product yet?
We were at the 2013 Bitcoin Conference in Silicon Valley, but as we couldn't flip the bill for a booth, we just set up inside the hack-a-thon. We showed up with this thing under our arms. We found out about the convention two days before we decided to go. We talked about it for a moment, forgot to mention our website, but it was all very last-minute.
Who inspired your project?
We were most inspired by Lamassu, which has a fantastic product for what we consider to be an unreasonable price ($4,000-5,000). We want to see bitcoin succeed and we believe the fastest way to do that is to get bitcoin out en masse on a cash for bitcoin exchange basis.
Our product is different in the fact that we get people the ability to manage a bitcoin ATM business for minimal cost, and our server hosting makes it easy to run and maintain an entire network of ATM's. Because our ATM is built using your own Windows computer, you have endless customization when it comes to how you want to set the ATM up. The our first customer has already had their unit for a few weeks and plans to add a thermal receipt printer to the equation to create wallets on site.
How much is one of your ATMs?
Our ATM is priced in descending amount with order size being the more you buy the cheaper they are, but one unit is about $752.
That's just for the software and the bill reader? What about a wall mounted version?
We can also install the wall units for cheaper than the Lamassu. We need specs, and have to cut some custom sheet metal for a wall-mounted device. One of those would be closer to $1,500 dollars, but we could have one of those ready in four or five days.
Are there transaction limits?
There is a $999 limit per single transaction.
And you take a fee?
So all transactions go through your wallet?
Yes, but if a customer knows how to use SQL and wants to run the machine on their own server, we can help them switch it over.
What about regulation? Does that liability belong to you or your customer(s)?
As fast as we can, we look to be complicit with FinCen regulations. As it stands, we would be something closer to a money broker. The United States regulations on bitcoin are extensive and growing, and anyone using one of these ATM's without the proper paperwork would be taking a great risk.
That's why running everything from a Windows platform creates a scenario where our customers can easily integrate a login acquiring all the information that the federal government would request. Or it gives you the customizability to fit the entire thing in a suitcase if you were of a different business model.
We are hoping to see lots of international interest as our ATM comes in a wide range of currencies, and the US is one of the few places with such strict regulations.
Do you or your partner mine?
I don't mine as of right now and neither does my partner, but I'm one of the many waiting on a Butterfly Labs Jalapeño pre-order in the mail to start my mining career.