Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane may soon boast their own bitcoin ATM machines in shopping centres as popularity of the world’s most high-profile digital currency soars across Australia.
Chris Guzowski, founder and chief executive of ABA Technology which provides bitcoin ATMs in Australia, said the company planned to roll out five more ATMs by September in various capital cities, including the Gold Coast.
“They’ll be installed in September, and then we’ll go in for another big order in September or October,” he told The Australian Financial Review.
“We’ve gone for a strategy of putting them in high-traffic, high-profile locations and that’s quite deliberate because we want our customers to feel the safety of being in a big, blue chip location,” Mr Guzowski added.
ABA currently controls three bitcoin ATM machines in Australia. One of the machines is located in Sydney’s busy Westfield shopping mall in the central business district, and another is situated in Emorium Melbourne.
The third ATM, which involves fingerprint-reading and face-scanning as part of its transaction requirements, was installed last week in Canberra Centre in the ACT.
Mr Guzowski will not say how many customers use the ATMs or the number of bitcoins that have been transacted through the machines, apart from noting that “we’ve had thousands of transactions, [amounting to] hundreds and thousands of dollars”. “Around the turn of the year there’s going to be 30 to 50 machines in Australia,” he said of the company’s rollout targets.
Mr Guzowski, a firm advocate of the highly volatile digital currency, is not alone in his efforts to entice more Australians to use bitcoins. He was one of the speakers at digital currency conference Cryptocon in Sydney on Thursday, which was attended by Australian entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors and law enforcement all with one interest in common: bitcoins.
The currency soared to over $US1000 ($1059) a unit last year before plunging when Mt Gox, once one of the world’s biggest online exchange for bitcoins, filed for bankruptcy due to a hacking incident.
Bitcoins are currently trading at around $US617 a unit.
The conference comes as digitalBTC posted its first quarterly cash flow report as a listed bitcoin company on the Australian Securities Exchange.
The company said it had sold 4000 bitcoins earned through mining for $US2.1 million ($2.2 million) by the end of June, and had complete the payback of a $US4 million investment in bitcoin mining equipment,
“Returns from this point over and above our payback point will serve to bolster our cash balance, and will be achieved from a combination of continuing equipment liquidation and mining activities,” digitalBTC executive chairman Zhenya Tsvetnenko said.
While some investors have been captivated by the rapid rise in bitcoin interest and price, others cite a lack of regulation and volatility as key hurdles to its adoption. But many argue bitcoins are here to stay and could be a major disrupter to traditional financial services models, the conference heard.