Seattleites have a new and easy way to buy and sell Bitcoin.

Coinme General Manager Nick Hughes tests out the new Bitcoin kiosk at the Spitfire Grill in Seattle.

The city’s first-ever Bitcoin ATM went live today at the Spitfire Grill in Belltown, allowing people to make secure transactions with the volatile cryptocurrency that has been making headlines for the past year or so.

The ATM, open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., scans your palm and allows you to exchange cash for Bitcoin, or do the reverse. Customers can make up to $3,000 worth of Bitcoin exchanges per day.

The machine is manufactured by Las Vegas-based Robocoin, which also built the world’s first Bitcoin ATM that was installed in Vancouver, B.C., this past October. It is operated by Coinme, a new Seattle company that will manage the kiosk and take a small fee for every transaction made on the ATM.

Coinme General Manager Nick Hughes, who previously co-founded a mobile payments startup called Seconds, told GeekWire that the inspiration for starting Coinme came out of a frustration from the lack of accountability and authenticity in the digital currency industry. Coinme wants to help people make secure transactions with Bitcoin and educate them on what cryptocurrency is really all about.

coinme1“If people are going to understand what Bitcoin is, they need to touch it and feel it in a safe and secure manner,” Hughes said.

Hughes added that the ATM is a better way for people to buy and sell Bitcoin compared to existing methods.

“It’s a heck of a lot faster and safer, and more secure than utilizing some sort of exchange,” he said.

If you aren’t familiar with Bitcoin, it’s the emerging decentralized, digital currency gaining popularity and acceptance as of late. Right now, one Bitcoin is worth about $450. That number skyrocketed past $1,000 in November, but eventually came back down amid security concerns.

Some companies have shown enthusiasm for Bitcoin, while others like Amazon are staying far away from it., the Salt Lake City-based online retailer, said in March that it took just over two months to sell more than $1 million in products to Bitcoin owners.

Nick Hughes.
Nick Hughes

More recently, Bloomberg offered its stamp of approval after announcing this week that it would list Bitcoin on its financial data terminals. Then on Tuesday, the MIT Bitcoin club said it raised $500,000 to give every undergraduate student $100 worth of Bitcoin as a way to spread awareness about the digital currency and have on-campus businesses accept it.

That’s a similar goal of Coinme, which is backed by angel investors in Seattle and plans to hold monthly Bitcoin Meetups with industry experts as part of an overall mission to teach the public about Bitcoin.

“People need to be able to talk about this and be educated about it,” Hughes said. “They need to hear about the risk and rewards from credible people.”

Even though there are already three existing Robocoin ATMs in California and Texas — in addition to 10 others around the world — Coinme claims it has the nation’s first licensed Bitcoin ATM. Coinme Compliance Officer Neil Bergquist worked closely with state and federal regulators to make sure that transactions on the ATM would be compliant with existing money transmitter laws.

IMG_8365.jpgWith their new endeavor, Hughes and Bergquist say they aren’t necessarily all-in about the future of Bitcoin, but rather the digital currency industry in general.

“The fact is, cryptocurrency is here to stay,” Hughes said. “We don’t know what the name of it will be specifically, but our bet is on the future of digital currency.”

“We’re just led by curiosity,” added Bergquist, who is separately the director of Seattle’s SURF Incubator. “We want to see where this goes and it’s really a pursuit of knowledge. We’re learning as much as anyone else.”

Hughes said that Coinme, which works out of SURF, plans to unveil more Bitcoin ATMs in the Seattle region soon. The company picked Spitfire as its launch location based primarily on accessibility.

“Belltown is fairly central in Seattle and Spitfire is well known in the tech industry,” Hughes said. “They are also open for a long period of time, which will make the machine available throughout the day and night.”

You can check out the new Bitcoin ATM at today’s launch party, which will feature a Bitcoin expert panel. Here’s an infographic explaining what Bitcoin is all about and how to use the new ATM.

Editor’s Note: GeekWire Chairman Jonathan Sposato is an owner of Spitfire. 



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  • wwbaker3

    Very risky investment. It’s not protected like your money that’s in the bank, which is FDIC insured up to a certain amount.

    • BTCguy

      It’s not an investment and shouldn’t be treated as one.

      • Kary

        You’re right it’s not an investment. But it is very risky.

        • BTCguy

          Not to sound condescending, but I that’s like saying email is very risky. Bitcoin is a protocol, and the currency aspect is one experimental application, of many.

          Now if you were to say buying bitcoin as a speculative investment is risky, I would absolutely agree.

          • Kary

            It varies in value. No way is would it not be considered risky, and that ignores the fact that sooner or later it will collapse as a total scam.

          • BTCguy

            What doesn’t vary in value?! That’s what investments are. Unfortunately, I won’t continue this discussion because you can’t differentiate between Bitcoin as a technology vs. bitcoin as an speculative currency.

          • kryptotrader

            MoneyGram& Western Union is collapsing due to walmart Visa lowering fees due to Bitcoin.and bitcoin
            has made a impact.

    • katmanchoo

      Don’t be such a pussy…

      • balls187

        lulz. well played.

    • SamuelThomas

      Man up.

    • TannrBeau

      Less risky than the US dollar, which is based on a treasury bond ponzi scheme.

      • Kary

        Nonsense. Bitcoin is more akin to tulip bulbs. You have your facts reversed.

        • TannrBeau

          No, there’s one key difference… When there’s heavy demand for tulips or beanie babies, there’s financial incentive for producers to increase supply (inflation), which is what caused those markets to crash. The supply of bitcoin can’t be increased like that… Because of that bitcoin acts more like a fixed-supply commodity.

          Treasury bonds are more akin to tulips… Where there’s nearly an infinite supply and new ones are issued to pay for expiring ones. THAT is a ponzi scheme.

          • Neal Palmquist

            Party one passes his Bitcoin to party two. The Bitcoin has no value to party two if there is not a third party willing to exchange his cash for absolutely nothing. Bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme, for sure!

          • TannrBeau

            People rarely pass cash to one another willy nilly without getting something in return, and it’s the same with bitcoins. In your example, party two must have valued the bitcoins they received more than whatever it was they gave up in exchange for the bitcoins. That’s the value… Same goes for any currency, commodity, or stock.

            Just like tulip bulbs, the supply of Confederate dollars were heavily inflated to meet heavy demand (in this case, demand of funding a civil war). When there’s not a fixed supply, and incentive to increase supply, it’ll eventually crash into worthlessness.

            Without conversion rates??? What an ignorant statement. As long as there’s someone who wants to sell their dollars for bitcoins, there will always be exchange rates. The Euro, Yuan, and Peso all have exchange rates too… Not just to the dollar but also with each other. Every thing of value has exchange rates in an open/free system.

            You like the dollar? Great! Nobody is forcing you to abandon it.

          • GBA

            Still asleep huh? Dont worry you will wake to the reality soon.

          • John

            The supply of Bitcoin does increase (ie. by further creating fractions of BTC much smaller than 0.00000001 that has potentially unlimited divisions until the IEEE 754 floating point smallest fraction is reached) so there is a nearly infinite supply for Bitcoin if someone decides to create the additional divisions. There are valid reasons to further create additional supply for Bitcoin that various people are considering without any concern for the inflation problem that you (falsely) believe can’t happen. Imagine if BTC technically can not have any fractions created (ie. only 21 Million possible BTC can ever exist without any fractions ever defined) then you would be correct that the Bitcoin supply is fixed. However, 21 Million BTC is a relatively small number for a world population of 7 Billion people even if you only expect 1% of people will ever have a chance to possess a single BTC. The other problem that you fail to realize is that the actual BTC that may ever be in circulation will always be less than 21 Million, due to BTC that has been destroyed during hardware or software problems. BTC is also destroyed when criminals are caught using BTC in “unlawful” ways just like other things they have confiscated after they have been caught committing crimes. The BTC is specifically not returned to circulation after the criminal investigations have completed as a deterrent for future crimes using BTC. So as the total number of BTC is gradually decreased, the fractions of BTC must increase to have any potential market share until people realize the supply and demand of Bitcoin is really a hoax.

          • TannrBeau

            First if all, to split a bitcoin further than 0.00000001 would require a protocol change and majority support of the entire bitcoin network… Not an easy task. Secondly, even if it were split further, it’s not the same as inflation the money supply because the overall percentage of bitcoin that any given person owns does not change (like a stock split). Gold can be split to a seemingly unlimited number of atoms, yet doing so doesn’t inflate the overall supply.

            Lost bitcoin is not an issue, it only makes bitcoin in circulation more valuable. Silver is often lost through the production of electronics, does that make the silver market a hoax?

    • PRMan

      True. And at the bank you are guaranteed to LOSE money. Your fees will almost certainly exceed your .80% APR.

      In the Bitcoin world, you are likely to get 1000% per year. Just don’t leave your money on an exchange. Transfer it to a local wallet or a paper wallet.

    • kryptotrader

      FDIC insurance takes up to 13 years to get paid. you call that
      insurance. Holland has been producing tulips for over four hundred years add that up.Bitcoin is over 5years old and isn’t going away.

  • Joel Carben

    Congrats to Nick, Neil, and the Coinme team. This is a very exciting venture, looking forward to watching them grow!

    • BTCguy

      I would join them if I could, but May Day – and the idiot anarchists are going to ruin those plans.

  • evergreen16

    Sounds interesting. But still, bitcoin craze is gone, and constantly falling value will decimate the last few holdouts.
    As gold isn’t the best investment right now, it’s far, far better than this virtual credit.
    Right now, bank will pay you peanuts for safely holding your money. But far better than bitcoin loosing over 50% per year.

    • BTCguy

      Don’t know what charts you’re looking at. It’s up 3% today, and up 300% from last year. It’s not virtual credit – you should do more research.

      Don’t invest in bitcoin if you’re hoping to make money – invest in it if you believe in it.

    • crypto

      For all those sceptics that dont like it, i will take it off your hands BTC 1A1pxz7BcQZxHcsHuQA1q3bLTGhxVWerGZ

  • balls187

    In all seriousness, when will this support DogeCoin?

    • BTCguy

      Do any exchanges exist that you can trade Doge for Cash (without going to BTC/LTC first)?

      • Mark Hostetler

        Cryptsy will soon. Don’t know if they’ve started yet but will probably be in the next couple of weeks.

  • Keith Horwood

    Does the spitfire grill accept bitcoin?

  • erock

    10000×.0001=1 idiot. They are not different amounts.

  • darth

    ww baker, ya so read the grocer story about the irs by George will .

  • Johnny07

    found this overview of more “ATMs” .
    The 1st Lamassu cost apprx.5000 USD if you buy just one. Robocoin is much moore expensive. There is a new brand in Czech republic, without waiting period, similar to lamassu and sold for 3000USD/peace. Traditionaly buy more/pay less is applied too. Now its good time with low prices, cause ATM price is the minimal part of the entire investment. Depends on state you are living of course. Better buy ATM and place it to bitcoin friendly teritory..thats my plan and works:)

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