My experience with the various Bitcoin ATMs (Robocoin, Lamassu, Bitcoin Briefcase)

So this month I got the chance to interact with various Bitcoin ATMs - I played a bit with Robocoin today, and tested out Lamassu and the Bitcoin Briefcase during Money2020 event. So here are my thoughts on them as well as some other information people are interested in.
So first of all, Robocoin. It's the only one of those that both sells and purchases Bitcoin. The process is a bit cumbersome to start (having to scan your hand a few times to create an account and wait a few minutes for a mechanical turk to verify that it's in fact the right hand and so forth), but after that it's pretty straightforward.
Some people were concerned about the palm scanner (both online and at the location). The developers of the ATM explained that they need to do that since they need to limit one person from buying more than $3k worth per day so they don't fall under AML regulations. They had a choice of scanning your ID, or fingerprints or the palm and they chose the last one since there isn't a database for palms that would link that scan to your identity. Given the restrictions they had to work with, I don't think that was a bad choice. At the same time I know a lot of people are very security conscious and would rather avoid that altogether - both sides of the argument have their fair points.
I talked a bit with the developers of Robocoin as well as listened in to one of my friends ask them some interesting questions about security and other things. All in all I must say they came off as very competent people. They know their technical things, as well as various regulatory issues (for example apparently if someone prints a paper wallet on the machine, loads it up and then sells / gives it to someone else that's creating a derivative market and technically you shouldn't be doing that).
As for the machine itself, I would say it's a little crude at the moment. Since it has so many widgets, scanners and so forth it's easy to get lost in the process of using it. I definitely would like it refined over a few iterations. Other than that, it does everything you'd expect it to do - you can load up your phone wallet through QR scanner, create a paper wallet on the spot if you don't have a wallet yet, and you can buy and sell bitcoins as needed.
Apparently the ATM does Bitstamp rate +3% (I might be wrong about the exact exchange, but I know it's not the Canadian VirtEx, since they were quite unresponsive in communicating with the developers). While the rate might not be that great in comparison to some other ways of getting BTC, but in Canada it's not entirely unreasonable with VirtEx charging pretty high fees by itself.
So overall, Robocoin is an interesting ATM with some good developers behind it, but it needs some more work put in to streamline the experience.
Now about the other two ATMs.
Lamassu is a bit of opposite of Robocoin. It has a small and elegant form factor, has just a camera QR scanner, a deposit slot and a display monitor. You can only buy bitcoins with it. Since it has limited options on what it does, the process is quite straightforward - put money in, scan address and send bitcoins. I don't know how they will be handling the AML regulations - it will be an interesting thing to see what their approach will be once they start releasing their ATM into the wild.
Bitcoin Briefcase has neither the elegant form of a Lamassu nor the versatility of Robocoin, but it's a fun little hack to carry around to get people interested in Bitcoin. It only takes change and pays out into a paper wallet it prints. It has a small display bar, a slot to put coins in, a wallet printer and a button to accept your purchase. It's not really a tool for frequent Bitcoin purchases, but definitely an interesting prop to bring along with to introduce people to Bitcoin easily.
So overall, it's really interesting to see what is being developed in this space. Robocoin is a big machine that might not fit everywhere, so it needs it's own dedicated space in some Bitcoin-accepting business. Lamassu is elegant and small enough to be placed on some extra bit of counter space available. The Briefcase is a neat hack that you can take wherever you go.
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05-12 07:06 - 'My journey to exchange BTC for Fiat via ATM' (self.Bitcoin) by /u/Rossman01 removed from /r/Bitcoin within 979-984min

Great, you’ve earned yourself some money - but you were paid in Bitcoin. You know how to use it, but what if you need cash?? This is a great question, and likely one to be asked millions more times with the gradual adoption and use of Bitcoin as a fiat. Many Bitcoiners would love to have a place where they can quickly go and hawk some BTC. Well I had the same need and have embarked on a journey to do exactly that, and along the way, help others avoid some of the obvious pitfalls that come along with the effort. The plan is to periodically visit some of these ATM’s here in my local area and report as to whether they are really still in operation and if they are meant to dispense cash, are they? Are they in a good neighborhood or is it better to visit during the daylight hours, etc.?
The first location checked out is Marina Smoke Shop in Huntington Beach, CA (949-431-5122) - I called to verify it’s “2-way” status. The shopkeeper didn’t quite understand me and the store is only a few minutes drive from my house; So I took a trip to see the machine for myself. There are two things I could have learned before I arrived.. One, RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) - If I had only read into it further, I would have learned that at the bottom of the reviews on CoinATM Radar ([link]1 ) That there is a note lending to the type of coin and direction; then further down to simplify it, whether you can buy or sell or both from this specific ATM (This HB ATM is one-way -> Fiat to BTC). Two, even if you call the location, the shop keeper may have no idea what the ATM in their store does, since it’s likely the store owner isn’t the ATM owner. The lesson, do more research than you think is necessary before burning your gas. If you only need to buy BTC, this machine will work for you as of 05/01/2016. The machine type at this location is a “Genesis Coin”
Alas, my first search wasn’t so successful, I did learn the above and continue happily on my way through trial and investigative error. Additional investigation gave way to new excitement as I learned that Jacks Liquor near LAX (in the city of Inglewood) is also described as a two-way machine; it even appears that way locating the machine through the above link. Great!! With this information in hand, I decide to check it out without the need to make a phone call and head out on my way - an approximate 45 minute drive.
This machine is a bit off the Freeway and in a neighborhood I would call, a little “Sketchy”. It may be a “2-way” machine as advertised, but the one at this location turns out to have the exact same scenario as the other (set to “sell only”), so was a little disturbed when I realized it. Then, when asked why the machine wasn’t set for bi-directional, the little oriental man behind the counter who assumably didn’t speak a lick of English, raised his hands and shrugged. I left visibly perturbed and kicked myself for not making the simple phone call that could have helped me avoid this trip. So, for you my readers...This machine type is a “General Bytes” and only operates to “Sell”
Although the link shows this ATM as “Two-way”, it is not. It would not be wise to jump off a plane thinking you can quickly trade your BTC for cash here because it’s close to LAX - This machine at Jack’s is set to only Sell BTC to customers - not trade it back. Best to continue on to the Westfield Mall (Described below).
Had I continued up the Freeway another ten minutes or so (as suggested above), I would have made it to the Westfield-Culver City Mall where there is a Lamassu type 2-way machine (6000 Sepulveda Blvd CulverCity, CA - Located on the first floor near JC Penney) accessible during Mall hours. The notes for this machine indicate that it was recently updated in April of 2016 to 2 way status - That’s a good sign, considering it’s now only May 2016. I should have made a stop here before returning home from Jack’s, but then, I wouldn’t have started this article. Live and learn; instead, I’m heading there next in my continuing mission.
This was an interesting experience. I found the machine no problem, and using it wasn’t a technical feat; very easy. Click sell, click how much, then the machine displays the address to send it to; Also, if you have your “pairing code” on your iPhone or android, then you can make your transaction by showing it to the little window at the lower left hand area of the machine. Be sure to include the amount of a fee, as the blockchain will set your transaction to the side and not process it for a long time. This happened to me, which sent me on an additional quest: Make contact with the owneoperator of the machine for assistance. Both the Manufacturer of the machine and Owner were prompt, knowledgeable, friendly, sensitive to my situation and helpful in resolving the issue. In fact, The Owner (Kais ([email protected])) happens to live in my area, and due to the distance between me and CulverCity, offered to help me personally for future transactions. He also advised that there will be a new 2-way ATM HeroCoin will be installing in Corona, CA soon - This is a main route into and out of Orange County, out towards San Bernardino and out towards Barstow. This was a great outcome that could have gone completely the other way. Be careful with how much you send to yourself and be sure to include a fee, you may just end up waiting thousands of minutes until the miner-nodes decide it’s worth it to pick up. Thanks Herocoin.co - Great customer service!
...and So, there I am.... next are some I haven’t yet visited, but plan to in my effort to flip out some Satoshis - and will update this string accordingly.
Further up the freeway, there is a 2-way machine at Meltdown Comics in West Hollywood -> 7522 Sunset Blvd - Los Angeles CA 90046 11am-9pm daily (Store Hours). This is a “BitAccess” machine where you send yourself some BTC by going to the website and depositing there (“cash.bitaccess.co”). The machine will hold it for you and has it waiting when you arrive to any BitAccess machine; it’s called “Remote Initiation Process” - The benefit described for this is no validation time required once you get there. It’s ready and waiting for you. It seems like a pretty good location considering the general BTC audience; “er, Comic Book Store?? ...Works on multiple levels“. I’ve not yet visited this store.
I also checked South on another machine (it turns out, there are two in the same complex area run by the same administrator) nearer to San Diego. I found an article claiming “California’s First 2-Way Bitcoin ATM” which was written in January 2016 and appeared in CryptoCoin News ([link]2 ... atm-opens/), considering the article is now several months old and the distance from me to Encinitas is long, I shot an email out to the machines admin contact (CoinOutlet.io). I was again impressed with how the admin responded right away, confirmed that the machine (located in, “Surf Brothers Teriyaki” 274 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA) is currently working, and finally, asked to work with me to help avoid a wasted trip to an empty machine. I like that, prompt, professional, and helpful. The second machine is close by at Camino Village Plaza 256 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA. Although there are a couple of closer machines to check out, these two are going to stay on my list to visit. These machines are CoinOutlet type machines - I’ve been able to locate instructions on use for any of these machines on YouTube.com.
Thank you for reading my post, I enjoyed writing it for you; this is not the end but just the beginning. I plan to continue visiting and reviewing more. If this article helped you to save Time, Gas, Confusion, Avoid costly mistakes or any other additional Effort... or if it helped you make a decision, pointed you toward the next awesome idea, or inspired you to other Greatness;
Please kindly consider donating to my bitcoin address:
Bitcoin donations of any amount will make me happy and keep me inspired to continue this journey. I also hope it will help educate and promote locations and the use of ATM’s to monetize BTC and get it to the Masses of people and into the mainstream Marketplace. If you are the owner or operator of a Bitcoin ATM located in Southern California and would like a visit and subsequent review of your atm location, Please contact me through this post or PM here at the website, Thank you very much.
My journey to exchange BTC for Fiat via ATM
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