The Electronic Funds Transfer Association (EFTA) and the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) issued a largely positive new report on bitcoin this week. Titled “Bitcoin: Virtual Currency with Real Opportunities,” the report focused on how “virtual currencies and ATM systems can interface for their mutual benefit.”
In the media release about the report, ATMIA’s CEO Mike Lee seems to have significant confidence in virtual currency as a direction for the slowly withering ATM industry. With standalone ATMs in steep decline thanks to point-of-sale systems and a general decline in cash payments, bitcoin could be a major shot in the arm.
“I think Bitcoin will still be standing, despite its ups and downs, in the medium term, perhaps even in the long-run.”
For the past several months, the ATM industry has hinted that bitcoin services could become a major new source of revenue. With most ATM providers already in possession of state money transmitter licenses, and most of the needed communications infrastructure and insurance already in place, the barrier to entry for most ATM providers is relatively low. Likewise, the cost of creating new ATMs with bitcoin-specific hardware and software is relatively inexpensive, and many existing machines could be retrofitted easily.
With over 2.5 million ATMs in the world, the potential for the bitcoin industry is immense. Such pressure would likely result in the immediate decline of dedicated bitcoin ATM makers such as Robocoin, or perhaps some interesting new partnerships.
The ATM industry has much in common with bitcoin, as both industries are on the fringes of the mainstream banking and finance world. As banks have increasingly partnered with credit-card based payment systems for digital payments, ATMs have lost a massive amount of their market share, and many ATM makers have modified their machines for alternative uses, such as lottery kiosks. With bitcoin desperately in need of mainstream access, and ATM makers in need of a viable new offering, it could be an ideal match.
The report is free to members of the ATMIA and EFTA, and available to non-members for $145.00. No BTC price was listed.