More major disappointment and failure has beset the crypto space this week. Sam Bankman-Fried was once the wunderkind of Web3 until a public statement on crypto regulation put him out of the good graces of the majority of the blockchain community.
Little did we know that Bankman-Fried’s unpopular public statements were a warm-up act for the swan dive that would follow, taking FTX Exchange FTT/USD and the price of Bitcoin BTC/USD — and alt network coins like Solana SOL/USD — with it.
These highly visible explosions of the darlings of DeFi have a deleterious effect on both retail and institutional investors. It gets harder to mainstream crypto when our leading projects don’t have their houses in order.
Yet the great mainstreaming continues, and leaders like CoinFlip are quietly contributing to the acquisition of new crypto users.
CoinFlip has thousands of Bitcoin ATM machines all over the U.S. and Canada, making it easier to participate in crypto by making the world’s most famous token easier and more accessible to buy. All you need is cash and a kiosk: the wallet part comes later.
We spoke with Bitcoin CEO Ben Weiss to learn more about their strategy for mainstreaming crypto through a bear market. Weiss will be speaking at Benzinga’s Future of Crypto event on Dec. 7 at Pier Sixty in New York City.
Ben Weiss at the CoinFlip Experience Center.
BZ: What is the intent of a BTC ATM Machine — to onboard users outside the crypto space?
Weiss: “CoinFlip owns and operates over 4,000 Bitcoin ATM locations in the United States and Canada. We’re trying to demystify crypto. We’re trying to take it out of the cloud and make it physical and tangible. Our ATMs are in people’s gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and neighborhoods. People will see them, and then they’ll get curious. And to get involved with crypto with CoinFlip, you only need your phone and some cash. We started CoinFlip because we didn’t want barriers to getting involved with crypto, whether it was not having a bank account or not being comfortable with the newest technologies.”
BZ: Isn’t Bitcoin too volatile to be used as an ATM currency?
“Bitcoin volatility can make it harder for people to use it as a payment mechanism but in the U.S., people are mostly using our Bitcoin ATMs for purchasing crypto.”
BZ: What kind of premium are users paying to buy Bitcoin with CoinFlip vs. using a crypto exchange?
“The cost of CoinFlip on the kiosk is about 6% to 12%, which is among the lowest in the industry.”
BZ: How many people has CoinClip onboarded with their first Crypto Wallets?
“We don’t have an exact count, but it’s well into the hundreds of thousands.”
BZ: Who are the intended users of your BTC ATM machines?
“People who use our kiosks include the unbanked and the underbanked, which is up to 20% of people in the U.S. But our users also include the crypto curious. Some people see Bitcoin ATMs, and they’ve always thought about getting into Bitcoin, and their friends might have talked about it. But they’ve never really had a call to action. Then they go into their grocery store, and then they see it. They may not try it the first time or second time they see it, but by the third time, they think, ‘Okay, I’ll put 50 bucks into it.’ It could be the waitress who gets her tips at the end of her shift in cash and wants to put extra tips into crypto. We see a lot of people dollar cost averaging.”
BZ: How do your user demographics differ from the big crypto exchanges?
“I would say that the people getting into crypto using CoinFlip are the crypto curious. CoinFlip customers aren’t typically power traders. It’s for the average, everyday person who has heard about crypto and might be curious about crypto as a way to take control of their financial destiny. It might be people who aren’t technologically savvy but still want to and deserve to participate.”
BZ: During the bear market, are you seeing the same level of BTC ATM interactions? Are you continuing to add ATM machines?
“We’ve leaned fully into the crypto winter. We’re hiring. We’ve continued to add locations. For every person who might get scared because the price went down, someone sees this as a great opportunity to buy one of the best-performing assets in the past 10 years at a discount. Our numbers are holding very steadily. In 2022, your friends aren’t talking about crypto because it’s crypto winter, but you still see our ATMs in your grocery store or at your gas station. They are getting those reminders about crypto with physical ATMs that they don’t get with online exchanges.”
BZ: What are your goals for 2022?
“We want to be people’s first entry point into crypto. And we think the ATMs are a straightforward way to do that. We just opened the CoinFlip crypto Experience Center in downtown Tampa, where live crypto guides can help you download a wallet. Some classes are open to the public, either in person or online. So we’re just trying to get as many people into the ecosystem as possible.”
The Last Word
The pundits of crypto are fond of saying that a downmarket is an excellent time to build. For CoinFlip, it seems to be true. We have all agreed that crypto projects need to show real utlity—- but sometimes it’s nice to find a project that adds a physical metaphor for the buying experience, one that crosses the generational gap between finance of 30 years ago and today.
BTC ATMs serve as 4,000 distributed kiosks to onboard newbies. To those outside the Web3 space who have never heard Bankman-Fried, a Bitcoin ATM at the local dairy may speak louder than any leader in our space.
This story is part of the Benzinga Future of Crypto 2022 summit-related content. Some of the best minds and most important projects in Web3 will be in attendance, including Rarible, Cosmos, Yuga Labs, Solana, Laguna Labs, and Algorand. Keynote speakers include Jordan Belfort, Kevin O’Leary and Anthony Scaramucci.