Blockchain API Profile: Genesis Coin
Bitcoin’s popularity has risen dramatically in just a short time, which means a lot of people are learning quickly. After a basic introduction to Bitcoin, the most common questions that come up are about the price, and how to buy some. Buying bitcoin has become increasingly easy, and one of the fastest ways to currently obtain it is through a Bitcoin ATM. With a current total of 368 deployed Bitcoin ATMs worldwide, it’s likely there may be one not too far from you.
This week, our API Profile features Genesis Coin, an ATM provider with 45 ATMs currently deployed in locations from Mexico to Macau. The company’s CEO, Evan Rose, joined us to talk about Genesis Coin ATMs and how Bitcoin ATMs in general are helping to serve a specific need.
Keep reading to learn how you can buy bitcoin using a Genesis Coin ATM whether you already have a Bitcoin wallet or are starting from scratch.
Alyson: It was during 2013 when the very first Bitcoin ATMs became available to the public. Since then, we’ve seen a tremendous variety of them pop up all over the world. Which geographic areas do you think have been more receptive to their installation and use?
Evan: Acceptance-wise, it seems that Asia and North America are leading the way. However, our operators have some exciting deployment plans in the pipeline for 2015 in less-serviced areas and I’m optimistic about the growth potential of developing economies.
A: What ATM options do you have available for purchase? Tell us a little about them.
E: Coupled with a 99.9% uptime guarantee on our infrastructure, our machines are reliable workhorses built around a smooth customer experience.
The Satoshi1 has a smaller footprint than the Genesis1, and it only allows customers to buy Bitcoin, not withdraw cash. The Satoshi1 is better suited for rapid deployment as it requires less upfront and operating capital. It is identical hardware-wise to the Genesis1, other than the lack of a cash dispensing system.
The Satoshi1 would be considered a kiosk, whereas the Genesis1 is really a bank-grade ATM machine for Bitcoin.**A: How did you choose to integrate the Blockchain API into your machines? **
E: At Genesis, we integrated the Blockchain.info JSON-RPC API for the convenience of our operators. Instead of having to spin up a VPS and configure an instance of bitcoind, they can get up and running within minutes of receiving their machine by choosing Blockchain.info as their hot wallet. We also query Blockchain.info in parallel with other sources to compare propagation rates and validity of 0-confirmation transactions.
A: How accessible are your ATMs for people who have never bought bitcoins and don’t have a wallet?
E: The Genesis1 and Satoshi1 both include thermal printers that create new paper wallets on the spot — perfect for those without a mobile phone or previous knowledge.**A: Unlike methods such as online exchanges or in-person transactions, Bitcoin ATMs allow users to obtain bitcoins very quickly and with minimal risk. Do you think ease-of-use factors like these, when combined with the widespread familiarity of using conventional ATMs, make Bitcoin ATMs a superior vehicle for adoption within mainstream markets?**
E: Each method of acquiring bitcoin certainly has advantages and pitfalls. The advantages of the ATM are , as you note, convenience, immediacy, and a familiar experience. The pitfall is of course a higher fee.
If you break down the fee difference on a $300 purchase between an online provider like Coinbase or Circle and the average Bitcoin ATM, the customer at the ATM might pay $10 – $15 more at the machine, but receive immediate delivery. Today, that’s more or less the price of a single meal at a semi-casual restaurant in America; the consensus of the ATM customer is that is really a small price to pay to gain instant access to the Bitcoin network.
The owner operators of the Bitcoin ATMs are doing a tremendous service for the Bitcoin technology and its proponents by creating a physical presence for an otherwise ethereal concept. News stories are usually adorned with stock photos of Casascius coins, which I feel serves to confuse a lot of new people.
However, I believe when someone visits what is on the surface a bank-grade ATM machine and is able to buy bitcoins directly to their mobile wallet, and in turn then sell those back to the machine to instantly get cash out, the concept of Bitcoin as another tool of expressing value becomes a lot clearer. I think the machines provide that educational element that is otherwise lacking in the world of online brokers and hosted wallets.
A: In your experience, what is the most significant roadblock for Bitcoin ATM providers as far as increasing deployment opportunities?
E: I think placement remains the biggest hurdle for those wishing to deploy Bitcoin ATMs. Without the tail winds of positive press, it can be harder to find reasonable accommodations for 300 pounds of steel.
Have you ever used a Genesis Coin ATM? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.
Be sure to follow Genesis Coin on Twitter, where they share important updates and the locations of all their latest deployments.