When you need cash to split a bar tab, you’re probably apt to hit the ATM. But the lone ATM at Bad Decisions in Fells Point spits out currency of a different sort.
On Monday, Maryland’s first Bitcoin ATM went live.
Users can scan a QR code on their digital wallet to buy and sell the cryptocurrency. If it was going to be anywhere in Maryland, it was probably going to be at Bad Decisions. The bar hosts the city’s Bitcoin Meetup group and, owner John Reusing said, “We’re early adopters for all of the tech stuff.”
The bar has accepted Bitcoin since last December, was one of the first Baltimore bars to use Foursquare as a marketing tool and even has its own mobile app.
Reusling said the meetup group and events are outliers, and that he usually sees just “a handful” of Bitcoin customers a month. But, he said, it’s a handy marketing move.
“A tourist that will leave the Inner Harbor, they’ll come here,” Reusing said. “You’re coming here specifically to use that ATM. It’s bringing a customer in the door.”
The ATM lets customers buy and sell Bitcoins based on whatever the prevailing rate is at that particular moment (as of 10 a.m. Tuesday, CoinDesk listed the going rate for one Bitcoin as $386.62). It changes in real-time.
“You can sit here and day-trade all day,” quipped Eric Grill, CEO of CoinOutlet, the North Carolina company that installed the ATM. CoinOutlet has more than 100,000 Bitcoin ATMs nationwide, with plans to put ATMs in BWI Airport and Penn Station, among other locations, with dates yet to be determined, Grill said.
“I’m local, so maybe I’ll use it to buy a beer at some point,” said Bill Burch of Canton.
Burch bought about $5 worth of Bitcoin. The machine took just 5 cents of his $5 as a commission.
Joshua Riddle, cofounder of Federal Hill-based Bitsie, said the rate at the ATM is still better than many online exchanges. “The best part is when a company starts accepting Bitcoins, they see who’s really using it,” Riddle said. “Now with this ATM, a business can offer a discount for Bitcoins. There’s no transaction fees for the merchant.”
For his part, Reusing said he accepts Bitcoin same as cash, with no special deals for those using the cryptocurrency.
Riddle said his startup, which works with businesses to facilitate Bitcoin use in the area, is currently on-boarding six different companies. One of Riddle’s takers is rapper Sorcez Dieniro, who worked with Bitsie to accept Bitcoin as payment for his next album.
He said he read a recent article in XXL magazine that talked about Bitcoin and the rappers who are coming around to the cryptocurrency, including 50 Cent. “50 Cent jumped to Vitamin Water. Nobody believed in Vitamin Water,” Dieniro said. “If 50 jumped … he’s a pretty intelligent guy, he made pretty intelligent investments.”
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