The self-styled “Wal-Mart” of the bitcoin ATM market has arrived in Memphis. Texas-based Coinsource, which co-founder Bobby Sharp says has ambitions of being as pervasive as the world’s largest retailer, has set up one of its machines at the Shell gas station at 967 Linden Ave.
A Texas-based bitcoin ATM company has expanded into Tennessee, bringing one of its ATMs to Memphis.
(Daily News/Andy Meek)
The company this year has been installing bitcoin ATMs at a rate of a little more than a machine a week, in places like Memphis as well as Nashville.
Coinsource CEO Sheffield Clark said the company’s reach in the South is growing. It currently has 60 machines across eight states and sees big potential for bitcoin in Tennessee.
“(We) look forward to gaining a foothold in even more new cities around the country,” he said.
Bitcoin is a digital-only currency that involves the transfer of funds to and from a kind of electronic wallet. The currency has an anonymous nature, which made it somewhat controversial earlier on.
While the currency is free from being influenced or manipulated by a government or central bank, since bitcoin has no central authority, its price can also see significant gyrations.
The day after the surprise win of Donald Trump, for example, Fortune noted that bitcoin was trading at a high of $736, up about 3 percent from the $708 mark the day before. Clark, likewise, said the election result has prompted experts to begin to forecast more cryptocurrency adoption.
The currency has also been making its way into the mainstream, with consumers now able to use it to make a number of ordinary transactions for things like hotel bookings and online shopping at merchants like overstock.com. Coinsource has been setting up its ATMs at a steady clip in recent months, at places like a convenience store in New Orleans this summer.
“We think Tennessee could be a power state for us,” Sharp said. “Right now, we own about 14 percent of the American bitcoin ATM market, and we’re growing.”
He said the company detected significant interest for its services in Tennessee, getting inbound requests in the form of emails and the like, which led it to set up machines in Memphis and Nashville.
As to how the company decides on locations where to put its machines once it decides on a city, Sharp said the considerations include central locations and extended hours.
“When people carry cash to these machines, a lot of times they don’t want to go in the middle of the day with a couple hundred dollars,” he said. “Sometimes they want to do it early in the morning, sometimes late at night. So one of the things we look for are places that are open late, not something that opens at 9 and closes at 5 like a traditional bank. And we try to put it central to where the need is.”
His point about carrying physical money to the machines also speaks to how they’re used. Consumers can bring paper money to the machine and exchange it for bitcoin.
“You put in your fiat currency, and immediately you get bitcoin in your digital wallet via cellphone,” Sharp said. “So immediately, it converts into bitcoin. That’s one of the advantages of doing this at a machine as opposed to going online and doing it at an exchange.”
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