This is a ninth review from our bitcoin ATM use series.
The following review is provided to us by Mwen from New Orleans, LA. Bitcoin machine that was reviewed is located at Brown Derby Superstore.
This review comes with a certain perspective, one in which I tried to maintain my own purity for the reader. I am fascinated with Altcoins in general, but I’m not a Bitcoin tycoon or a mega-miner. This Bitcoin ATM is the first to be installed anywhere near my mid-sized Southern city, and still it is roughly a three-hour drive away. To prevent myself from forming preconceived ideas about what the transaction would entail, I purposefully did not read other Bitcoin ATM reviews before going. In the spirit of Bitcoin evangelism and new markets, I wanted to approach the transaction as most members of the general public would. After writing, I cycled back and read a little more, and I now understand more about the transaction fees tied to Bitcoinaverage. Buyers should expect a seven percent increase.
My Bitcoin Background: I majored in soft sciences, but I always pushed myself and wound up taking a mini-track in computer engineering. Since then, I’ve enjoyed tinkering in the technical, building my own gaming PCs and working on minor programming efforts. When Bitcoin was fresh and shiny, a friend and I teamed to purchase some smaller mining rigs, cobbling together USB hubs and Antminers. We had moderate success in a smaller pool, which resulted in slightly bigger payouts. Today our five-gig rigs are really much too small. Because we were minor miners, we never saw the need to upgrade – it was mostly fun for us. So, I acquired his equipment and now have a small solo miner hashing away in the corner. I realize the odds of mining a block are a jillion to one, but it’s still fun to tinker, and even the remote idea of a lottery-type win is just plain fun.
A Big Bitcoin Splash in the Big Easy: This Bitcoin ATM was a “Hey Martha” story in the local media when it was placed just weeks ago. My older journalist friends used to say they were always on the lookout for a Hey-Martha — a story that would prompt the old patriarch of the house to shout, “Hey Martha [replace with wife’s name here], come look at this!” The machine was heralded with much ballyhoo and appeared on several local newscasts. It had that gee-whiz factor in a town that doesn’t really have much experience with Bitcoin, other than a few retail places that accept it. The local TV stations covered it post-installation, and a rep from the company even gave demos with varying amounts of coin. My net news feeds picked up the local splash, and I realized what a great gesture this little quick-stop store was making to spread the word about Bitcoin. I’ve never used a BTC ATM and have none anywhere near my mid-sized town. This ATM being the closest, the newest and really the only, I promised myself I would give it a look the next time I was in the Big Easy.
Biting the Bitcoin: Well today was the day. I was passing through and had about 30 minutes for a stretch break, and there I was. I left with plenty of time to spare.
The location was easy enough to access, really not that far off the interstate but not in a high-traffic area. That’s not to say it is in a bad location, but rather it is a little off from what you might think of as New Orleans proper. There were plenty of people milling about, wide roads and good lights. The store itself seemed to be a hub for the lunch crowd and working folks to grab plate meals. There was a line for hot plates, but I saw no attention paid to the ATM.
If heading that way and you don’t know the area, make sure you know the street address. Apparently the words Brown Derby mean something around this area. My cell’s map assistant had trouble locating the place on voice command, so I had to input the correct address. There was a Brown Derby restaurant nearby, and I think a few other places. So, try not to confuse Siri or aggravate yourself.
Once inside, the ATM location was a little disappointing for someone who likes to share his limited knowledge of Altcoins with others. It is slightly hidden. I walked in and to my left immediately saw a fiat cash ATM, and I first thought I’d gotten bad info.
Then, while looking for the bathroom, I noticed the true and honest ATM was several steps down to the left upon entering, past the drink machines. It seemed like an odd place. Still it was brightly lit and inviting, and no one seemed to stare, like I thought they might, while I tinkered around with geek stuff.
The bitcoin machine itself is large and highly visible with little adornment. All information is gathered through the screen. Otherwise you would think this was a Western Union machine or something similar. A simple stylish button invites you to press a button to start buying. After that, the exchange rate is prominently displayed at the top right before you start, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Speaking of the exchange rate — it does not favor the buyer. On this day, when Coinbase listed the exchange at $650, the machine offered $694. I checked within about five minutes of making my purchase, so this was not a daily fluctuation. Still, the machine’s rate is easy to find, and this ATM is just about the only game in town, so you can’t complain. With such a high exchange rate, I looked for an option to sell but didn’t find one. Just a big button to buy. But, I am really not in the business of selling – I’d rather hang onto my assets now. So no biggie.
The process: Once in buy mode, you have the option to buy from $1 to $800 worth of BTC, or $801 to $3,000. So, those are your limits, and I wasn’t sure why they were separated. Later I realized the larger amounts need facial authentication and some form of ID as well.
I had three twenties handy, so I went with 60 bucks. Impressively, you get several options for entering your Bitcoin address, including a scanned QR code (paper or on your cell phone) or entering the whole thing by finger (good luck).
After making a selection, identity verification is required through a code sent to your cell via SMS. So, don’t come looking to buy BTC with only an address scribbled on paper and cash money. On the positive side, though, the code was sent incredibly quickly. After punching in the number, I reached for the phone in my pocket, and I got the buzz while lifting it out.
Next, I was asked to complete my “customer profile” by entering the code and my first and last names. As a tinfoil carrying member of the paranoid conspiracy theorists association, this gave me pause. I punched in my name anyway before realizing I could probably have entered Satoshi Nakamoto, Popeye Sailor or something similarly crafty.
But, by the time this thought occurred, I tapped the enter button and my receipt was printing. The entire process proved to be even more simple than I’d imaged, and I was glad to see BTC coming this close to entering the mainstream. My receipt listed 0.08639184 BTC in return for $60, meaning I’d only lost about a half-cent in fees and/or miscellaneous by the machine’s reasoning. Going by Coinbase’s rate, I’d only gotten $56.17 worth of BTC. But, I could overlook that difference of opinion due to the ease and speed of the transfer. Later I realized the fees are built into the process, so expect to pay about seven percent.
I was able to verify on my cell that the transfer had occurred within one to two minutes. To the credit of Coinsource, the operator, the receipt listed several methods to contact the company and get help if anything went haywire. Nothing did, and I left a satisfied customer.
TLDR: 9/10 would BTC ATM again. The whole process took less than four minutes, and that was with me lingering on the screens and taking photos. Time spent could be reduced to between 60 and 90 seconds easy if you come in ready to go.
– Quick and easy. I’ve bought and sold the old fashioned way, but man, this is hassle-free.
– Great way to introduce a friend to Bitcoin. Hey, bud, let me treat you to an Icee and a few thousand Satoshis.
– Reasonable fees for convenience.
– As a BTC ATM noob, I did not realize the fees were built into the exchange price and kept looking for a screen that verified the cost of fees. I was confused when I wasn’t given the opportunity to review said fees.
– Phone number needed, name asked for. I guess it’s needed, but I do have a tinfoil hat collection.
– Need to insert exact amount of cash. If you insert five $20 bills, you can’t buy $90 in BTC and get a $10 bill back.
– The machine is easy to pass by without noticing, as it is not near the fiat ATM and the case itself isn’t branded.
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