Robocoin late this month plans to install the first ATMs in the U.S. that let users buy and sell bitcoin, the latest step into the mainstream for the digital currency, the company said Tuesday.
The kiosks, to be installed in Seattle, and Austin, Texas, are similar to ATMs but have scanners to read government-issued identification such as a driver's license or a passport to confirm users' identities.
The ATMs will allow people to swap bitcoin for cash, or deposit cash to buy more bitcoin by transferring funds to or from a virtual wallet on their smartphones.
Bitcoin was launched in 2008 and is traded within a global network of computers.
Robocoin, based in Las Vegas, installed its first bitcoin ATM in Vancouver last fall and will also start operating one in Calgary, Alberta, later this month. Robocoin also is planning to install ATMs in Asia and Europe.
A bitcoin is currently worth about $636, but its value has fluctuated widely as the currency's visibility has increased. Last September, a bitcoin was worth around $150. By late December the value was near the $1,000 mark.
Users can buy products and services online on sites including Overstock.com (OSTK) or in a handful of stores.
The currency's reputation took a hit last week when two of its best known exchanges suspended withdrawals. One of them, Slovenia-based Bitstamp, said Friday it planned to allow redemptions to resume.