City of Houston Allows Bitcoin ATM in Convention Center

Robocoin ATMA Robocoin Bitcoin ATM
(The ATM in Houston is branded as CoinVault ATM)

The City of Houston has allowed a live Bitcoin ATM to be set up in George R. Brown Convention Center. Houston owns the building, but it is managed by Houston First, a separate corporation that runs the convention center and other Houston-owned public buildings. This marks the first Bitcoin ATM to be operated in a government-owned building.

The Bitcoin ATM was built by CoinVault, one of the company's line of Robocoin Bitcoin ATMs. It allows users to deposit cash (U.S. dollars, in this case) and get both a Bitcoin wallet and Bitcoins. Users can also trade Bitcoins for cash at the wallet, and Houston First is marketing that as a convenience for international travels concerned about carrying cash.

"We think this will be an attractive option for international travelers coming to Houston,” Mark Goldberg, Houston First’s assistant general counsel, said in a statement. "There will be no need to carry large amounts of hard-currency during travel. Pick up your funds when you arrive in Houston. Exchange-rate conversions for those seeking U.S. dollars are done automatically at our bitcoin ATM."

Selling Bitcoins to a Robocoin ATM requires verifying your identity and delays of up to an hour, as described by CryptoCoinNews. Houston First could be onto something, however, because those delays compare favorably to the risks of carrying cash on an overseas trip and the hassles and waits associated with wire transfers.

The most interesting aspect of this news, however, is that the ATM was setup in a government-owned facility. It's only a city government—the most local of governments—but it does symbolize the growing acceptance Bitcoin in the U.S. as a legitimate tool of commerce.

The ATM is available now in the GRB Convention Center, and Houston First was careful to describe the venture as being revenue-neutral.