by Jamie Holmes
Entering into a joint venture with Digital X, Stargroup will set foot in the Australian Bitcoin ATM market. The two companies will work together utilizing the existing financial infrastructure, bringing two-way Bitcoin functionality to 500 ATMs owned by Stargroup across the country.
Broadening the Reach of Two-way Bitcoin ATMs
Bitcoin ATMs are growing worldwide, along with the altcoins, which are now more widely available For instance, Toronto welcomed its first Ethereum-supported ATM’s not long ago and the emergence of litecoin availability at ATMs in London has been notable over the past few months. Worldwide, in July, Litecoin support shot up from 91 to 210 machines. Now traditional ATM manufacturers like Stargroup are becoming interested in developing technology to offer Bitcoin functionality.
In Australia, there are less than 25 bitcoin ATMs, with most being buy only and charging fees anywhere in the range of four to eight percent. The joint venture between Stargroup and Digital X will make it easier for Australians to convert Bitcoin to Australian Dollars (AUD). While Digital X will develop the API to facilitate transactions, Stargroup will work on the ATM software. Both companies, based in Perth and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), will share transaction fees.
With just six Bitcoin ATM’s offering sell functionality, the move by Digital X and Stargroup will be welcome by the Bitcoin community ‘Down Under’. And the move might setup a foothold for further altcoin adoption in Australia; DASH is already offered by some Bitcoin ATMs.
Stargroup operates around 500 ATMs and its fully-owned subsidiary StarLink manages more than 2,000 teller machines. With just six locations where you can convert Bitcoin to AUD, Stargroup’s entry into the market lays the groundwork for many more on-ramps for fiat. With two-way Bitcoin ATMs becoming available across these locations, altcoin integration may be the next logical step.
Bitcoin ATM Market Needs Some Competition
Competition in the Bitcoin ATM market is welcomed, as it permits greater choice and satisfaction for consumers.
If we take London as an example, the reasonable Bitcoin ATMs are the minority. These are the BitXAtm machines operated by BCB, which have the lowest fees throughout the city. The rest of the operators charge much higher fees, do not support selling or frequently fail to anticipate demand. A £500 ($647.30) spread on the price of bitcoin is excessive, and frankly, not in the interest of furthering adoption.
To become a gateway to the Bitcoin world and encourage adoption, these machines need to overcome being simply a novelty factor.
A novelty is all that most of them are at the moment. You would be better off not buying/selling at the majority of machines in London and use an exchange (but that means we have to use the services of those pesky banks) or a P2P marketplace like LocalBitcoins instead.
Perhaps the entry of larger players into the Bitcoin ATM scene will see these profits competed away. More and more, digital currency is gaining recognition. Established businesses like Stargroup want to make Bitcoin withdrawals as convenient as cash withdrawals. Until people are provided with fairer prices and more choice, most Bitcoin ATMs remain nothing more than a novelty.