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Are Coinstar Machines Transforming into Bitcoin ATMs?

3 mins
Updated by Dani Polo
On Jan 17, 2019, Coinstar announced a partnership with Coinme, a Bitcoin ATM company. Over the next few days, Coinstar machines began selling Bitcoin vouchers which can be redeemed using Coinme’s website and wallet — potentially integrating Bitcoin into new public spaces and offering a route by which mass adoption of cryptocurrencies could occur. Nonetheless, there is a major impediment required to buy Bitcoin from Coinstars and Bitcoin ATMs in the form of “Know Your Customer” (KYC) identity verification.
A cryptocurrency ATM allows a user to convert fiat money, like dollars or euros, into Bitcoin (BTC) or other cryptocurrencies. It has been calculated that there are several thousand such ATMs throughout the world. Only a minority of cryptocurrency ATMs allow the selling of crypto to fiat — nearly all allow crypto to be bought with fiat, however. Bitcoin ATMs are cryptocurrency ATMs which allow the purchase or sale of BTC for fiat. They make up the majority of crypto ATMs in the world. Some Bitcoin ATMs allow the purchase of other cryptocurrencies or cryptoassets. At least eight cryptocurrencies are accepted at various ATMs throughout the world. Bitcoin ATM

Coinstar Develops A New Purpose

Bitcoin ATMs first emerged in 2013. Coinme installed the first one in America the following year. Coinme’s partnership with Coinstar, LLC means that the latter’s machines are developing a new purpose. They were first developed as a means by which consumers could convert change into paper bills. Later, the machines allowed the purchase of gift cards and vouchers to various businesses and restaurants. Now, Coinstars are evolving to allow fiat-Bitcoin conversions. Coinstar, LLC is a multinational company with machines active in a self-reported nine countries. The total number of Coinstars in the world is approximated at over 20,000. Until now, Bitcoin and other crypto ATMs were defined by their singular ability to convert some crypto into fiat or vice versa. By developing this new purpose, Coinstar machines appear to operate similarly to Bitcoin ATMs developed by Coinme and other similar companies. [bctt tweet=”If qualified as a Bitcoin ATM, these Coinstar machines would increase the total number of crypto ATMs from several thousand to nearly 25,000.” username=”beincrypto”]

What About Other Machines?

The possibility of converting other machines into Bitcoin and other crypto ATMs now exists. For example, traditional ATMs which allow a user to withdraw or deposit fiat currency might evolve to convert fiat to dollars. Similarly, lottery machines might allow winners to redeem their winnings in cryptocurrency instead of fiat. It is also feasible — though perhaps a bit more far-fetched — that digital vending machines might develop a similar use-value. There are other possibilities, but all remain speculative until they are actually implemented. [bctt tweet=” The integration of Bitcoin into public spaces by Bitcoin ATMs, Coinstar machines, and other similar fintech might also increase the rate at which mass adoption of cryptocurrencies take place.” username=”beincrypto”]

Overcoming KYC

There is an impediment to using Coinstars to buy Bitcoin. Complaints about the long Know Your Customer (KYC) process emerged soon after Coinstar’s announcement. In order to use Coinstar to purchase BTC vouchers, consumers are required to confirm their identities. This involves providing an email address, phone number, first and last name, a driver’s license or similar documents, and a photograph of one’s face, in order to create an account. The consumer must then wait for their identity to be verified, which has been reported to take up to an hour or longer. After this process is completed, the consumer still doesn’t have Bitcoin. He or she receives a Bitcoin voucher which must then be redeemed for satoshis. Such a long and tedious process may impede overall usage of Coinstars as Bitcoin ATMs. KYC


With the partnership between Coinstar, LLC, and Coinme, there opens up a new possibility by which cryptocurrency can be integrated within public spaces. Such integration may increase the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. However, the long KYC and redemption process may prevent consumers from using these machines for the purpose of converting dollars or other fiat currencies into BTC or other cryptocurrencies. Would you ever purchase Bitcoin from a Coinstar machine? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 


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