UPDATE: Since this article was published, it has been reported that bitcoin ATMs were installed in Albuquerque on February 18 and Boston on February 19. Austin's bitcoin ATM will be the first machine installed by Robocoin, which announced on February 18 that it would install its first U.S. machines in Austin and Seattle.
Things move at lightning speed in the world of technology, and when news broke Tuesday that Austin would be one of the first U.S. cities to see bitcoin ATMs, there were still plenty of questions surrounding it. Primarily, where exactly would the ATMs end up? And would the installation come in time for SXSW and the slew of visiting industry insiders?
Doubts regarding whether or not Robocoin, the company behind the virtual currency ATMs, would actually complete its delivery can now be put to rest. CultureMap has confirmed that HandleBar, a trendy watering hole located on East Fifth Street and Brazos Street, will receive a bitcoin ATM kiosk.
TechCrunch reported the location after Robocoin CEO Jordan Kelley made his decision public on social media. HandleBar management confirmed via phone Wednesday afternoon that it will house the Robocoin machine — with installation happening quickly at that.
"We received a call from them yesterday at around 5 o’clock," says Brett Vance, co-owner of the facial hair-inspired bar. "They didn’t exactly tell us why they chose us, just that they were looking for cool places that had room. It’s not a normal ATM, it’s a big kiosk and we have the space."
Vance also confirmed that as of now, the bitcoin ATM is schedule to go online Thursday, February 20 at 2 pm.
The bitcoin ATM will allow customers who use the digital currency to either exchange the bitcoins in their digital wallets for physical cash, or deposit cash in order to purchase more bitcoins. The kiosk will identify customers by scanning official government identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.
With a location in the middle of downtown — and just a few blocks from the epicenter of SXSW Interactive — HandleBar will be an accessible spot where tech geeks can take the machine for a spin. "We’re very excited, it’s a cool thing," says Vance. "It’s going to be a big deal during SXSW, and due to the local tech industry.”
As for whether or not HandleBar will accept the currency as a method of payment, Vance says that’s a separate issue, requiring the installation of a different point of sale system and research into the laws of bars accepting bitcoin. Until then, patrons can at least trade in that bitcoin gold for cold, hard cash to buy a Mustache Ride cocktail.