US retail giant Coinstar will allow customers to purchase Bitcoin BTC via ATM kiosk at over 200 of its locations, thanks to a pilot project with Bitcoin ATM provider Walmart.
The firm has earlier expressed its interest in the burgeoning crypto space and looks to include digital currencies as part of its everyday operations. An August job listing even stated the company was seeking workers to help develop the digital currency strategy and product roadmap while identifying crypto-related investment and partnerships. The test with Walmart began earlier this month and includes 200 kiosks in Coinstar stores. The pilot is part of a broader initiative by Coinstar, which has teamed up with a cryptocurrency exchange Coinme to offer Bitcoin at more than 8,000 kiosks.
Bitcoin is easy to buy. Customers simply pay with fiat dollars at Coinstar machine and then get a voucher. They must also set up a Coinme account and pass a background check before the voucher can be redeemed. The machines charge a 4% fee for the Bitcoin option and a 7% cash exchange fee.
Some industry observers say the rollout will help speed up crypto adoption. Bitcoin ATMs have been around for a while, including in many supermarkets, said Sam Doctor, chief strategy officer and head of research at BitOoda, a regulated crypto brokerage.
Walmart expands Bitcoin access to more people, though, and gives it further legitimacy among skeptics, should they roll it out beyond an initial pilot, he added.
Walmart is testing the service weeks after a high-profile hoax in which a fake press release said the retailer would start letting customers pay with Litecoin. That announcement was quickly found out as false, but it hasn't stopped Walmart from shying away from this pilot.