While adoption of cryptocurrencies is accelerating among the investor class, rapidly enabled by this week’s launch of the first bictoin (futures) ETF, it appears the even broader adoption of digital currencies into day-to-day life and mom-and-pop may be about to escalate dramatically.
Reuters reports that Walmart customers at some of its U.S. stores will be able to purchase bitcoin using ATM-like machines installed by Coinstar.
Coinstar, known for its machines that can exchange physical coins for cash, has partnered with digital currency exchange CoinMe to let customers buy bitcoin at some of its kiosks.
A bitcoin-enabled Coinstar kiosk at a Walmart in Warminster, Pa. (Kevin Reynolds/CoinDesk)
“Coinstar, in partnership with Coinme, has launched a pilot that allows its customers to use cash to purchase bitcoin,” Walmart communications director Molly Blakeman told CoinDesk via email.
“There are 200 Coinstar kiosks located inside Walmart stores across the United States that are part of this pilot.”
This is all good news for those who see the network effect building more sustainable value in bitcoin, but, as CoinDesk.com reports, there are some ‘complications’.
After inserting bills into the machine, a paper voucher is issued.
The next stage involves setting up a Coinme account and passing a know-your-customer (KYC) check before the voucher can be redeemed.
The machine charges a 4% fee for the bitcoin option, plus another 7% cash exchange fee, according to the Coinstar website and verified by CoinDesk.
That’s considerably more complicated than a standard bank ATM and we suspect may leave a few eager adopters holding back.
“Large retailers need to make sure they know the vendor they’re getting into bed with and what that organization is doing to manage risk,” Seth Sattler, compliance director of BTM provider DigitalMint, said in an interview.
However, as Coindesk notes, the cryptocurrency ATM industry is expanding at a rapid pace, partly fueled by the COVID pandemic. Coinstar announced plans in 2020 to double its fleet of 3,500 Coinme BTMs amid a spike in usage. More recently, Coinstar, which started adding bitcoin-buying services with Coinme in early 2019, added 300 bitcoin-enabled machines at Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más, Harveys and other grocery stores across Florida.
There are now almost 30,000 Crypto ATMs worldwide…
But Walmart (with 4,700 stores and a market cap of $409 billion), long seen as the crown jewel to bringing crypto financial services into the mainstream, is another step in the evolution of cryptocurrencies in everyday life.
And no, this is not another Litecoin-like hoax.