Australian Bitcoin enthusiasts are finally going to get their wish with Westfield Sydney Central Plaza becoming the first local retail shopping centre to welcome a Bitcoin ATM.
The ATM, developed by ABA Technology (ABA), will not only allow customers to withdraw cash from their existing Bitcoin wallets but also let them turn their real wallet into a virtual one.
First-time users will have to provide appropriate identification and ABA chief executive Chris Guzowski said there’s a stringent verification process in place before bitcoins can be traded.
Once verified, consumers need to provide their phone number, PIN and the palm of their hand to authenticate transactions.
The ATM has full encryption security in place and according to Mr Guzowski is fully compliant with international regulations concerning unlawful transactions.
With ABA’s second Bitcoin ATM set to launch in Melbourne in a couple of weeks, Mr Guzowski told Business Spectator that the support of a high-profile retail entity like Westfield was crucial to highlighting the benefits of virtual currencies like Bitcoin.
“This is new technology, it’s disruptive and with the ATM there’s no intermediary holding onto your cash,” Mr Guzowski said.
“You immediately become the custodian of your value.”
Virtual currencies still might have a way to go before they can prove their worth as a stable store of value but there’s no denying their disruptive potential in the payments industry.
According to Mr Guzowski, the first industry under threat is the remittance industry, worth some $500 million a year.
“There are a lot of fees associated with this segment and we see the adoption of Bitcoin as a safe and immediate alternative,” he said.
The other sector where Bitcoin looks set to make waves is digital commerce, with virtual currencies posing a significant threat to credit card companies.
“Credit card fees are a burden to businesses, especially those operating on low margins,” Mr Guzowski said.
“Bitcoin lowers this fee and the settlement period is much, much lower.”
However, making virtual currencies mainstream relies on wholesale adoption — what Mr Guzowski describes as a “positive feedback loop”.
“The more people use it, the more they accept it and the greater acceptance leads to greater usage,” Mr Guzowski said.
Guzowski added: “We would like to thank Westfield for their support of this innovative digital remittance technology, which provides instant payment and a new way of undertaking frictionless transactions between people and businesses.”
ABA Technology was created after the merger of Australian Bitcoins ATMs and Kryptocurrency Solutions, which was headed by Robert Masters, now a director of ABA Technology.
The company has a contract to import and operate ATM devices from US supplier RoboCoin among other manufacturers.