First US Bitcoin ATM launches in Austin Thursday

Robocoin kiosk. (Courtesy: Robocoin)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Robocoin, the world’s first Bitcoin ATM, is banking on Austin for its launch in the United States.

Starting Thursday, customers who use Bitcoins will be able to make deposits and withdrawals from a Robocoin machine located inside the Handlebar in Downtown Austin.

Bitcoin is a decentralized virtual currency that is powered by its users for peer-to-peer payments.

While Bitcoin is changing how users sell, buy and exchange on the Internet, Robocoin CEO Jordan Kelley realized that buying and selling in real life was a challenge — hence the impetus for Robocoin.

“We’re bringing tangibility to Bitcoin,” said Kelley. “Machines are trustworthy, you know what you’re getting out of it. The machines are incredibly compliant, very secure, and always linked to real-live market data.”

Robocoin launched their first ATM machine in Vancouver, B.C., in October and then set their sights on Austin — just in time for South by Southwest.

“I think it’s going to be a big year for SXSW and Bitcoin,” said Kelley.

The owner of the Handlebar, Brett Vance, said the decision to put Robocoin in their bar was a fast and easy one.

“We actually got approached about this yesterday afternoon,” said Vance. “Within 30 minutes the guys were down here checking out the space and we came to a deal to put it in the bar. We’re just basically providing space, Internet connection and power.”

Vance is hoping the tech-savvy SXSW crowds will stop by to check out the machine and his bar.

“With South by Southwest coming up, that’s a huge opportunity,” said Vance. “Anything you can do to separate yourself from everybody else in the area — especially aiming toward the tech community — that puts us leaps and bounds above anybody else.”

To capitalize on SXSW, Robocoin will be installing several more machines in Austin over the next few weeks.

How do the machines work?

If you want to turn cash into Bitcoins, you’ll need your phone, your identification card, your face and your hand. You enter the cash into the machine, scan your mobile wallet or just tap “generate wallet,” which will in turn print out a paper receipt with a public address and private key to your Bitcoins.

If you have Bitcoins but are in need of cold hard cash, it’ll take nearly 10 minutes. You will need to send the Bitcoins to a QR code on the machine and then wait for market confirmation, which usually takes about 10 minutes.  The ATM will you spit out a ticket and when the verification is completed, you scan the ticket and the machine will give you the money.

Robocoin is working on making the withdrawal process faster.

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