Trying out the first South Korean Bitcoin ATM
Today the first South Korean Bitcoin ATM was placed into cafe Coffee Sedona, located in the basement of the COEX Mall. It is a bit difficult to find—you have to go past Outback Steakhouse and Bulgogi Brothers to get there. Bitcoin ATMs allow you to independently buy and sell Bitcoins for cash.
I arrived before 2 PM and reporters were already lined up taking pictures of the machine. Evelyn Chung, director of Coinplug, was standing in front of it. In the afternoon there were only press and staff members. I did not see anyone who was there to simply use the Bitcoin ATM.
The Coinplug Bitcoin ATM is the first Bitcoin ATM that has been fully created in South Korea. Nautilus Hyosung (a Korean ATM company) is responsible for the exterior design, while Coinplug created the interior payment module. In comparison, the ATMs from HanaPay and Bitcoin Asia were built and imported from outside of the country. The ATM transactions are processed through Coinplug’s own exchange. There are no USD/KRW conversion fees.
I asked Evelyn Chung what motivated Coinplug to install the ATM. She explained that Coinplug wanted to create a place where people can easily experience how Bitcoin can be used as money.
Evelyn went on to explain that Bitcoin is not very useful yet because there are not many places that let you use it. They hope to create a central location—similar to New York’s Bitcoin Center—where people who are interested in Bitcoin can gather and talk.
In order to reach their goals, the fees were kept under 1%. Deposits or withdrawals will be charged with a Bitcoin fee of around 0.7 to 0.8%. The world’s first Bitcoin ATM—a Robocoin machine located in Canada—charges 3%.
The limit is set to three transactions of 300,000 KRW (approximately 280 USD) per day.
[Picture showing Ryan Uhr, CEO of Coinplug]
Ryan Uhr, CEO of Coinplug, anticipates that the Bitcoin ATM won’t be making them any money. He explained that most of their efforts will go into online payment systems. Coinplug intends to make it possible for you to pay online with Bitcoin—just like you would by credit card or bank deposit—in order to buy goods in online stores.
Once the press attention died down, I tried out the Bitcoin ATM and made a video of the process.
[Video showing the Bitcoin ATM in action]
It was very easy to buy and sell Bitcoin with the machine. There were no burdensome procedures like having to verify your identity. However, since the machine was only just installed, there were some minor issues. I also ran into a problem during my use. When I tried to use the Blockchain Wallet, the machine took my money and only showed an error message. Jay Hong, CTO of Coinplug, explained that this was related to the technique used in the QR code of the Blockchain Wallet. He lent me his Android Wallet so I could proceed with the transaction. Since Jay witnessed the issue and said it will be fixed shortly, I assume this will be resolved soon.
In order to avoid problems from occurring over the weekend, the Bitcoin ATM won’t be available to the public until March 10 at 11 AM. During the first two weeks, a Coinplug staff member will always be present to explain the process and help with any possible issues. To achieve this, the ATM will only be operational until 7 PM.
A couple of side notes:
- I’m not a native speaker of Korean, but it should be pretty accurate.
- I know the people from Coinplug. This is my way of thanking them for showing me around their office.
- Me and a friend run a frequent Bitcoin meetup in Seoul
Also, this is my first post ever. Hi! 🙂
TL;DR: First fully Korean Coinplug Bitcoin ATM installed in Seoul (COEX Mall, Coffee Sedona). Allows both withdrawal and deposit in KRW. Low fees, under 1%. No ID required. Limited to 3 transactions of 300,000 KRW (~280 USD) per day. Usable from 11 AM to 7 PM starting Monday.
Edit: Formatting, updated the translation and added TL;DR.