Bitcoin is one step closer to being readily available to the masses. If you have any doubts, check out your nearest Walmart. You might be able to buy Bitcoin there at a Coinstar kiosk.
To be clear, Walmart itself is not offering customers a way to buy bitcoin — its partner Coinstar is. Coinstar is most known for offering kiosks that allow people to trade in their spare change for bills or gift cards. (It certainly was my go-to for my jars of coins when I was a kid). Now, Coinstar will allow people to use its kiosks to buy bitcoin through a collaboration with Coinme, a crypto wallet company that provides bitcoin ATMs.
Coinstar’s new service was first spotted and confirmed by CoinDesk on Thursday.
“Coinstar, in partnership with Coinme, has launched a pilot that allows its customers to use cash to purchase bitcoin,” a Walmart representative told CoinDesk. “There are 200 Coinstar kiosks located inside Walmart stores across the United States that are part of this pilot.”
Buying bitcoin appears to be relatively simple. On its website, which has a very long FAQ section, Coinstar explains that you first have to create a Coinme account. After that, you can head to your nearest Walmart with a participating Coinstar kiosk — only 200 kiosks at select Walmart stores are part of the pilot, so make sure to check that the one near you offers the service — and buy bitcoin with cash.
Curiously, you can only buy bitcoin with paper bills, not coins. It also won’t give you change, so make sure you have the exact amount you want to buy in cash. In addition, Coinstar only allows users to buy bitcoin, not sell bitcoin they already own for cash.
Once you’ve completed your purchase, the Coinstar kiosk will give you a voucher with a code that you can redeem at Coinme. All purchases come with a 4% transaction fee, part of which goes to Walmart, and a 7% cash exchange fee. A Coinme account, which provides users with a complimentary crypto wallet, is required to obtain access to your bitcoin.
As far as data privacy goes, Coinstar does require customers to provide a valid phone number to use its kiosks but says it doesn’t store it or any other sensitive data of people who buy bitcoin. Coinme, meanwhile, carries out a Know Your Customer check to confirm users’ identities, which includes providing a non-expired driver’s licence or state ID and confirming the user is older than 18 years old.
Although Coinstar’s pilot is small at the moment, the company has big plans for cryptocurrency. It plans to offer the ability to buy bitcoin at more than 10,000 of its kiosks and allow the purchase of different cryptocurrencies by the end of the year.