NYC has a Bitcoin ATM. I found out a couple of weeks ago. I was thrilled, because I’d been hesitant to link my main real-world bank account with an online Bitcoin exchange. I’m sure the online exchanges and wallets take many security precautions, but the technology is still new and I don’t trust fully yet.
I was also too lazy to set up an alternate bank account solely to use it with a Bitcoin exchange.
So I decided to visit the Bitcoin ATM. As a tech geek with interests in security and new innovations, I’m curious about how Bitcoin works and wanted to try the process end-to-end.
Bitcoin ATM Step-by-Step
The Lamassu ATM is run by PYC Bitcoin and is installed at Flat 128, a boutique in the West Village. I was worried that the process of depositing might be cumbersome or might not work, but it was smooth and easy.
Here are the steps I followed:
1. I downloaded the free Bread Wallet app on iPhone. It was recommended to me by the ATM operator as a good, easy-to-use app, and after some App Store research, I agreed. Configuring the app took only a couple of minutes.
2. I went to the ATM at Flat 128 with cash.
3. I opened the Bread Wallet app on my iPhone, entered my PIN, and selected the “Receive Money” screen. I tried to scan my app’s QR code into the ATM but held it in front of the wrong place on the machine. Luckily, the sales clerk knew how the machine worked and showed me where to scan the code. (Scan it on the glass panel on the lower right of the ATM).
4. I deposited cash, and a tally on the screen showed how many Bitcoins I had purchased. I stopped at 1 Bitcoin, confirmed the transaction, and watched as my phone’s Bread Wallet app balance went to about $500. (Note: There is also about a 5% fee.)
In sum, the ATM transaction was easy and pleasant. (I’m not sure how easy withdrawing cash would be, since I didn’t try that.)
But I now had a lot of money on my smartphone — more than I was willing to leave there for the long haul.
Where to Put the Bitcoin?
I researched online and offline Bitcoin storage and decided to split my Bitcoins between Coinbase (a relatively established online Bitcoin wallet with an offline vault option) and a paper (printed, offline) wallet.
Establishing the Coinbase account was easy, and it took about an hour to verify and transfer my Bitcoin from the Bread Wallet app. Beyond this simple transfer, setting up two-factor authentication (better security) in Coinbase was a little more complex. I had to provide my phone number, download the “Authy” app, and type in a couple of codes and a backup email address.
To me, the process itself is interesting. I’m interested in learning more about how Bitcoin works and trying a few more different mechanisms, including using offline or paper storage, using a Coinbase Vault, making an online purchase from Overstock.com, and withdrawing cash from the ATM.
I’ll blog about it here.