Bitcoin ATM on Schiphol Airport



Schiphol is the first airport in Europe to offer a Bitcoin ATM service, so I hurried there and exchanged 50 legacy euros for some ``fake internet money`` and it went pretty easy actually!

We already knew it was coming because the High Tech Campus had a Bitcoin ATM since middle 2017 and I shortly spoke with the person who is responsible for placement. Excited nontheless when Schiphol released the news a Bitcoin machine was their latest move to facilitate innovative travelers.

So what does it do? It’s similar to a normal ATM machine where you exchange between your digital bank account balance and the local cash currency. Instead of exchanging euro on your bank account to euro in bills, this device exchanges your bills into the mondial cryptocurrency Bitcoin. It’s like as if you have a guy standing at the airport gate offering to give you some euro for the leftover weird looking monopoly money bills you still had in your pocket.

Met de Bitcoin-automaat hopen we reizigers te bedienen doordat zij ‘lokale’ euro’s makkelijk kunnen inruilen voor de ‘mondiale’ Bitcoin of Ethereum.

Why and when would I want this? We all know the moment when you arrive at the airport of a country that has different currency and without thinking you withdraw a random number like 100.000 zorpies. Woops, is that just short of two coffee or enough to buy 3 houses?? Throughout the trip ‘cash supply’ is a thing to keep in mind and most of you might be like: the day before departure I withdraw a bit too much and end up buying 3 cans of overpriced cashew nuts, 4 refrigurator magnets, 1 bottle of whiskey or realize at home that I still have enough zorpies for steak diner. In another country.

What if… Instead of wasting your last zorpies there would be a machine on zorpedorp airport that accepts your local currency cash and either:

  1. Deposited it to your bank account?
  2. Gave back cash in your native currency?
  3. Gave you something that has value all around the world?

Perfect right? Well…

  1. Number 1 relies on the bank and they are not known for their customer-oriented services or innovative technology (I won’t go into detail about the Swift protocol).
  2. Number 2 is impossible because you would need a large supply of many possible currencies. Note: the Dutch ‘GWK’ should worry about their future because originally they do exactly that: border cash exchange.
  3. So that leaves us with number 3. But what on earth has value all over the world? Gold? Yes but that’s not portable nor easy to ‘cut into smaller parts’. So we need something easy to transfer, split into parts, safe and universal? If only such digital currency would exist… 

I got into the train as soon as possible to try out this marvelous machine. I really wanted to deposit some of my euro bills I kept around ‘just in case’ for praktical or anonimity reasons.

1-2-3 easy steps and there goes my 50 euro bill. The device scanned a wallet address QR code on my phone, asked for euro bills and immediately posted a transaction on the public bitcoin blockchain. I took a photo of the confirmation ‘receipt’ on screen and my phone wallet app reflects the balance within one minute.

This service is not cheap. Most of the €5 it cost me goes directly to the company that took all the effort in getting the device there so I don’t blame them for charging a fee. Only a small fraction of this €5 is actually the bitcoin network fee!

A note on fees: In december the immens hype and bitcoin price increase caused congestion on the bitcoin network causing the fees to spike above $25 and verification times longer than an hour making it indeed impossible to pay for a coffee. Times have changed, according to Bitinfocharts the transaction fee has dropped below 10ct and much has been done to significantly speed it up.

What can you do?

  • Install a bitcoin/ethereum wallet on your smartphone

  • Visit Schiphol airport

  • Exchange some euro bills into cryptocurrency

  • Brag about it to friends and social media

Device is located in arrival terminal 2 on Schiphol Plaza, across La Place Express and I Amsterdam Visitor Centre.

Supported cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin and Ethereum

Maximum amount you can exchange is set to € 100,-

We have no clues about when or where the next Bitcoin ATM will be placed, but surely we expect more!

About The Author

Allard Couwenberg
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