McALLEN - Just last year, a bitcoin ATM was installed in the La Plaza mall area by Coinme, the first licensed bitcoin ATM company to launch in the states four years ago.
With a simple touch of the screen and some walkthrough instructions, anyone can set up a bitcoin account. From there, transactions can be made to anyone at any time, and according to Coinme Director of Marketing, Dom Garrett, the people in the area have been making them quite often. So much, in fact, that the demand for bitcoin in the area has become fairly high.
“People just seem very excited that it’s there.” Garrett said. “There is a community interested in bitcoin, and we’re excited to continue this opportunity with McAllen.”
For nearly ten years, bitcoin has changed the way we deal with money by confusing or reeling us in at the same time. Run by a network of computers, this digital currency allows easy transactions through the web without the hassle of a bank or other authorities. Because of this, as well as its tolerance for anonymous identities and constant rise in value, it has become a popular investment for many - so popular that it brought the creation of ATMs in different parts of the nation.
With locations in California, Washington, Kansas, Utah, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas, Coinme specifically has been working with providing bitcoin users easier access to their cryptocurrency, making them a digital wallet on the spot that they can also use online. They first started with big metropolitan areas, however began to realize that those weren’t the only communities they wanted serve. They thought about those who aren’t or can’t be linked to a bank account, don’t live in big cities, and yet want to send money to family and friends. After much research, they started placing their machines in smaller cities - McAllen being one of them.
“Part of the reason why we were excited to be in McAllen is because of this ease of use and to take some of those barriers down.” Garrett explained. “We see that areas that are like McAllen in the U.S. really appreciate having this on-ramp in the crypto, especially with something as understood and well used as the ATM.”
While many new users may find the ATM (or bitcoin in general) difficult to use, Garrett encourages that the process is quite simple. All that is required is a state ID and some cash to get your wallet going. Users can then deposit from as little as a dollar to as big as $2,500, the limit for the machine. Based on the amount of transactions seen by Coinme (which could not be given in numbers), the company is working on not only including a “withdraw” action, but possibly expanding more of their ATMs around the Rio Grande Valley.
Since Monday, July 16, Coinme is offering a 5 percent transaction fee for bitcoin users - not only as a thank you to the Rio Grande Valley community, but as a way to show people its simplicity.
“We want to provide accessible access, something that doesn’t seem too techy to people,” Garrett said. “We’re just like people in McAllen, and we want to make sure that everybody gets the opportunity to take part in the future.”