Bitcoin startup Lamassu Bitcoin Ventures, the maker of a Bitcoin ATM that promises to eat your paper money (fiat) in exchange for spitting bitcoins into your digital wallet, has its initial production of 15 units a few hours after pre-orders started funded (through their website) – appropriately, most of the payments in Bitcoin.
Presumably, this means they posted $ 60,000 to $ 75,000 in sales for the first run of production – based on the $ 4,000 to $ 5,000 per machine price they talked about at the Bitcoin conference in London last month . However, Lamassu does not confirm how much sales they made at the time.
What’s the point of a Bitcoin ATM? The aim is to lower the entry barrier to digital cryptocurrency – which still smells like geeks (and investors) at this early stage of its development – by personally exchanging banknotes for Bitcoin. Of course, there are tons of ways to make fiat-to-bitcoin currencies online, but the bitcoin ATM doesn’t require the user to sign up for an online exchange service in order to receive bitcoin. (However, ATM users need their own Bitcoin wallet to store their exchanged BTCs).
The Bitcoin ATM only accepts paper money, but there is no minimum limit (yes, you can exchange 1 USD to get around 0.009 Bitcoin at the current exchange rates if you really want to). It only accepts cash, so no debit / credit card payments – a conscious choice by developers to limit its cost and complexity by not having to deal with banks.
They argue that this is also easier for the buyers of the ATM itself, as they don’t need to obtain bank approval to get the machine working. However, they caution that buyers still need to ensure they are complying with all relevant financial regulations in their own country (Bitcoin regulations can’t even be labeled “in the works” for a nonprofit, and bitcoin policy confusion varies by country on land).
The startup stated that it had more than 150 inquiries about the machine prior to production. Some of the countries that have made pre-orders are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Slovakia, Finland and Denmark, according to co-founder Zach Harvey.
While it is funding the first run from pre-orders and its own investments, Harvey said Lamassu could potentially seek external funding in the future. “Investing is something we are seriously considering for the next step in mass adoption,” he tells TechCrunch.
Lamassu expects to ship the first 15 units to buyers next month.
Here’s the pitch Harvey held on the ATM last month at the Bitcoin conference in London: