First Bitcoin ATM hits South Africa
The first Bitcoin ATM has hit the streets of Johannesburg. Rolf Deppe and business partner, Monre Botes, are the geniuses who decided to run the Lamassu Bitcoin vending machine from the new Metroman salon situated in Kyalami, Midrand. This will be the next step to tweak the interests of all hipsters for a face to face experience of Bitcoin currencies.
We had a chat with Rolf, who together with Monre runs their business Tremendis Learning, about his future plans and venture into Bitcoin:
How did you come across the idea for the Bitcoin ATM and why in JHB first?
My business partner and I, Monre Botes were watching the Bitcoin ATMs sprout up all over
the world, with a noticeable lack in Africa. By middle of February we decided to simply try it, ordered a Lamassu, and the rest is history. The location in JHB was chosen specifically as we live there, and we do need to get to grips with the new technology and setup, so having it close by was more suitable.
How receptive is the JHB community towards Bitcoin?
There is some interest, but I don’t think close to what the interest is in Cape Town and Stellenbosch at the moment. Obviously, we would like to also drive the adoption in Jhb.
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
Writing iOS applications for Bitcoin.
What are the biggest benefits and largest risks of doing business with Bitcoin?
Obviously the possible growth and upside of Bitcoin is there. It is really in its infancy still, probably like the internet was in say, 1992? So if Bitcoin takes off like some expect it to, then the upside would be tremendous. The growth in usage and perceived value has been substantial in the last 5 years, eclipsing pretty much any investment known to man. The risks – well obviously there is concern that a new technology could take its place, or that the uptake simply will not be there. So the risk then would be that it simply fails.
For businesses, merchants and customers alike we can look forward to reduced transaction fees, quicker transactions. Bitcoin is very much the email of money so whatever parallels you can draw with email and the old days of sending a letter by post, you can draw now with Bitcoin and the financial industry at present.
What has been the most exciting work development this year?
Our company, BitBean, is currently developing an app for www.coinATMRadar.com in iOS and Android.
It’s been said that Bitcoin could be as “big as the Internet” in reshaping the world and spurring economic growth. Do you believe that?
I think the time is ripe for money technology to take a quantum leap. Whether it will be Bitcoin, I do not know. I would be willing to bet a substantial amount of money (or Bitcoin) that in 10 years’ time a crypto currency will have a place in the world economy.
A variety of bullish Bitcoin price predictions have been touted over the past year. What’s your crystal-ball forecast for what Bitcoin will be worth in six months?
I think minimum 400 USD and maximum 2500USD.
How can financial institutions adapt to a technology that ultimately threatens their dominance?
I do not see entirely that Bitcoin threatens financial institutions. Bitcoin is by design set up to let machines securely and without human intervention, do secure transactions. If anything, if financial institutions adopt Bitcoin, I think it would make them far more efficient. In my view it is a logical step for the financial industry to start adopting Bitcoin.
Thinking of NYC’s bid to implement the Bitcoin licence to be able to trade with Btc: what’s to stop the banking industry from coming up with their own implementations of a virtual-currency model?
By design Bitcoin is an open protocol. The “miners” that mine for Bitcoin blocks and process and verify transactions, do their job to keep the network “safe”. If the banking industry wishes to create their own crypto currency it would by design have to be closed, and therefore, the entire workings would be completely different to how Bitcoin works.
What will come of Bitcoin regulation? Is this key to convincing politicians and governmental institutions to pass favourable legislation?
Bitcoin regulation is to some degree required. We as BitBean do not have any interest in funding illegal operations of any kind, which is basically what protocols like KYC and AML target. At the same time, Bitcoin is a young technology that does need some space to spread its wings and grow. Too harsh regulation will only push development to a place where technology can escape regulation, so a fine balance is required.
Just for fun: what music did you listen to when you created the Bitcoin ATM?
I listened to Winny the Pooh on channel 309, DSTV! Courtesy of my 3 year old daughter.
They are planning to install more of these Lamassu ATMs in Cape Town and Pretoria soon.