Boris Mann’s Personal Blog

Feb 2018

Using a Bitcoin ATM to withdraw CAD in Victoria

Using a Bitcoin ATM to withdraw CAD in Victoria

I’m in Victoria for a couple of days and I’ve been exploring the city. I went past a hemp clothing store and saw a sign for a Bitcoin ATM and decided to try it out.

A good point to make is that while I am working on a company that deals with blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies, I personally don’t really hold much crypto, other than to experiment with. I don’t have “trader” mentality so I focus a lot on the technology and the community. The bitcoins I sold I mostly got from

BitBrokers at Hemp & Company

Here’s the BitBrokers sign that explains a bit of background.

I probably should have taken a photo of the whole machine. It’s a big box that has a number of different slots and printers and cameras.

This is the welcome screen. I picked Sell Bitcoins.

I found this next screen very confusing. “For how much cash you want to sell?” isn’t the correct way to say this. I knew how much BTC I had, how much would the machine give me?

Maybe “How much cash would you like to withdraw?” might be better wording.

I finally figured this out and thought I’d take out $80CAD.

I did try the “Buy Bitcoins” option as well just to see. That green “Preview” box is a live camera view for scanning QR codes. Crypto wallets are one of the apps that have really taught people that QR codes are a thing again.

Back to the flow of selling BTC for CAD.

I skipped photographing several screens here.

One prompted me to enter a phone number for SMS updates. This was a great idea, but either I typed my phone number in wrong (the touchscreen double entered numbers and was hard to backspace) or it didn’t work at all.

The other screen displayed an address and a QR code of the address I should send BTC to. As noted above in the final screen, I needed to do it within 60 minutes.

The machine also printed out a ticket, again with the QR code that I needed to send to. This made it easy to open my crypto wallet and scan the address to send to.

On my end, I hit send and then my crypto wallet gave me updates on confirmations. Unfortunately, the store was closing and the transaction didn’t confirm by the time I had to leave.

The next day I came back and selected “Redeem Ticket”. This meant aligning the QR code of the ticket with the Preview box until it scanned. Having been folded in my pocket overnight, this took some doing.

Finally, success! The machine spat out four $20CAD bills.

In case you’re wondering, I turned it into meat & beer for a delicious birthday dinner ;)

End Notes

I need to sit down and figure out all the fees I was charged and what the conversion rate actually was. I paid a lot to go from BTC>CAD.

But, if the store had been open longer, I could’ve completed the whole transaction within about 10 minutes. Too slow for an ATM use case, very fast for an investment account to cash withdrawal.

Usability was terrible. The touchscreen was bad, the UI was not clear/badly written, and the camera and how to use it was both bad and unclear. So I guess this is a novelty? Or no competition?

In emerging markets, regular ATMs are rare. But everywhere there are agents that take in mobile money and hand out cash, or take in cash to turn it into mobile money. I can see SMS or USSD interfaces working peer to peer, or for smartphones, a direct model with QR codes shown on screen / scanned with camera on the phone. I’ve been handing out Dogecoin using the iOS dough wallet and it’s been working great.

Merchants taking crypto directly is most interesting. I have some thoughts on “regional tokens” that I think builds the right kind of community and usage.