Japan gets first bitcoin ATM, two more on order

The final location of the ATM will be secret until an unveiling, importer says

Formula One racing and cryptocurrency have nearly nothing in common -- except Suzuka. The home of the Japanese Grand Prix will soon debut Japan's first bitcoin ATM.

Local importer Raimu has brought a Robocoin ATM into the country from Las Vegas-based Robocoin Technologies. It arrived at the company's warehouse Thursday.

It plans to show it off at an unveiling in Suzuka, a city of some 200,000 near Kyoto and Osaka, before shipping it to a buyer whose name and location are still secret, the company said.

Raimu is a small firm that imports camping gear, PC peripherals and dog snacks, and the ATM is its first venture into Bitcoin. It sees burgeoning demand for the machines and has two more on order from Robocoin.

"There's going to be a lot more than three, I think," Raimu CEO Motonori Kan said in an interview by phone.

"It's going to be an educational process. People know about Robocoin and it has the highest security features, and features required by governments around the world regarding money-laundering restrictions."

Kan could only think of a handful of businesses in Japan than deal in bitcoin. He admitted that the digital currency's image has been dismal due to the collapse of Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, once the world's largest exchange for bitcoin.

He speculated, however, that if the ATM is set up in Tokyo, it will more than match the nearly US$1million in bitcoin purchases that a similar machine in Vancouver had during its first month of operation.

Vancouver has hosted the world's first bitcoin ATM since last year. Machines have also appeared in the U.S., the U.K., Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and, from this week, China, in addition to other countries.

Users of the Robocoin ATM in Japan will be able to buy and sell bitcoin through the machine, which would also issue Japanese yen and transaction receipts.

Fees for using it will be set at a few percent, Kan said, a fraction of which will go to Robocoin Technologies.

"It should be kept low because promoting the usage and enlarging the user base is more important than trying to get quick profits," Kan said.

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Tim Hornyak

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