Iceland Gets Its First Bitcoin ATM - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland Gets Its First Bitcoin ATM

Photos by
Paul Fontaine/Jason Scott

Iceland’s very first cryptocurrency “ATM” will be officially launched this evening, and the public is invited to a party to celebrate the event.

Jason Scott, a Bitcoin entrepreneur who monitors cryptocurrency mining in Iceland, is the mind behind the machine, which can be found at Hlemmur Square hotel in Reykjavík.

“I’ve wanted to do this since maybe 2014,” Jason told us. Currency controls made it difficult, but now that those have been lifted, the law opened the way for the machine.

The principle behind it is quite simple. One simply puts cash into the machine, and the machine in turn transfers cryptocurrency to whatever wallet you have on your smart phone. Wallets are widely available on both Google Play and the iPhone app store. The machine dispenses not only Bitcoin, but also Zcash, Etherium, Dash, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash.

Jason is not overly concerned that cryptocurrency is still finding its way in the mainstream.

“Most people don’t understand how a credit card transaction works, or where their money is even printed,” he says. “If people are interested and they want to do it, for the novelty of it, then this is what I want to provide.”

The machine also made sense for Iceland, which most recently made international headlines for its mining operations.

“We mine a bit already, and were mining about 10% of the network at one point,” he says. “The business case that won me over was that even if locals stop using the machine, there’s enough turnover in tourists who have krónur and don’t really know the value of the Icelandic currency. They have to leave for a flight, for example, early in the morning, and they see this in the lobby of the hotel. That’s what sold me on this idea.”

Furthermore, the advantages of cryptocurrency over state-backed money are numerous.

“Privacy is a big part of it,” Jason tells us. “Autonomy is a big part of it. Security also ties into this.” Security issues, especially where credit cards are concerned, will likely play a significant factor given recent hacking catastrophes, such as what happened with Equifax. If things go well with this machine, more may be set up at other locations in the near future.

To launch the machine’s opening, a party will be held tonight at 19:00 at Hlemmur Square. Free drinks, snacks, and a raffle with prizes will all be on offer.


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