BUSINESS BOOMS WITH BITCOIN
23 May 2014, Written by Karen Rickert
BRISBANE’S The Roastery Cafe is home to Queensland’s first Bitcoin ATM, following a successful launch last Friday.
The machine is the first multiple-currency machine of its kind, allowing users to create an e-wallet and safely exchange a number of digital currencies for cash and vice versa – and it’s attracting people from all over the country.
Bitcoin is the most common digital currency in the market, with variants Litecoin and Dogecoin growing in popularity.
The system was developed in 2009 to allow online peer-to-peer payments, avoiding traditional fees imposed by a bank or financial institution.
Bruce Carrall, co-owner of Rouge Coffee which is based at the cafe, says the extended compatibility of the ATM has proven to be a hit with the public.
“Traditionally you’re looking at about 90 per cent of people who buy and sell Bitcoin are male, highly-educated with a high disposable income.
“But it’s attracted people from all walks of life. I’ve had people fly in from Perth and Adelaide coming to see and use the machine.
“It’s really working well and bringing in a lot of new faces into the business,” he says.
It generally takes more than a week to purchase or sell Bitcoins, whereas with the ATM it takes less than two minutes.
“There has been a big issue with Bitcoin, where people don’t feel very secure using it.
“For it to become more usable it needs more identification processes - we have facial recognition on the ATM, biometrics finger scanner and SMS verification.”
He says the currency has generated a lot of interest in the business and helps tap into a market that is yet to be fully utilised.
There’s a one per cent flat fee to process a Bitcoin payment, in comparison to closer to two per cent using EFTPOS.
“If you look at it at a higher level, you’ve got Virgin Galactic or Shopify in America using companies like Bitpay – where you can pay around $30 a month to do $300,000 worth of transactions or for $300 a month do up to $3 million worth.
“So those companies will benefit greatly from saving on fees, at my level of business it’s just tapping into the market.”
At time of press, the value of one Bitcoin was $536 – but it has hit as high as $1000 previously.
“Over time, they are going to release 21 million Bitcoins and it will steady out. At the moment it’s fluctuating rapidly and very volatile, because there’s not much supply in the market.
A Robocoin ATM was unveiled in Sydney’s Westfield shopping centre last month, with more and more retailers taking up the currency.Carrall says it appears to be the way of the future, likening it to the start of the dotcom era.