The cryptocurrency may be purchased via Coinstar machines located throughout the retailer’s cavernous large box shops. On Oct. 12, it was confirmed by an editor of CoinDesk that the service is running by buying a modest amount of Bitcoin at a Walmart in Pennsylvania.
“Coinstar, in collaboration with Coinme, has launched a test program that enables Walmart consumers to buy bitcoin using cash,” Molly Blakeman (Walmart communications director) told CoinDesk through email. “200 Coinstar machines situated in this test program will be placed within Walmart shops around the United States.”
Coinstar is most known for its coin exchange service, which allows clients to exchange coins for paper banknotes or gift cards. Coinme, a cryptocurrency wallet and payment company specializing in bitcoin ATMs, enables the possibility to purchase bitcoin (BTMs).
A paper coupon is given once bills are inserted into the machine. The next step is to create a Coinme account & pass a (KYC) know-your-customer check before redeeming the coupon. According to Coinstar’s website and as confirmed by CoinDesk, the machine charges a 4% fee for bitcoin transactions and an additional 7% for cash exchanges.
CoinDesk conducted the test from an actual emergency in the aftermath of a scam last month in which a bogus press release stated that bitcoin (LTC) will be accepted as payment in Walmart shops. This time, the relationship between bitcoin and Bentonville is genuine. According to a person familiar with the pilot, Walmart, located in Bentonville, Ark., was hesitant to issue a press statement after the Litecoin incident.
Bitcoin ATMs are becoming more prevalent
The bitcoin ATM sector is growing at a breakneck speed, aided in no little part by the COVID epidemic. Coinstar announced plans to increase its network of 3,500 Coinme BTMs in 2020 in response to a surge in use.
Coinstar, which began offering bitcoin-purchasing services in partnership with Coinme at the start of 2019, Now Fresco y Más, Harveys, Winn-Dixie, and other Florida grocery shops have added 300 bitcoin-enabled ATMs.
However, Walmart, widely seen as a crown jewel of mainstreaming cryptocurrency financial services, is another step forward – if the 200-kiosk experiment is a tiny change for a corporation with 4,700 locations and a market capitalization of $409 billion.
Given Walmart’s links to Coinme and MoneyGram, the prospect of crypto-enabled financial institutions for lower-income consumers seems alluringly near, but the store did not explain more about its crypto intentions.
Concerns About Compliance
While widespread BTM adoption may be beneficial, there are worries regarding money laundering, according to compliance director of BTM, Seth Sattler, supplier DigitalMint.
All this is because specific crypto ATM systems ignore the machines’ relatively high number of illegal activity, he said. This sector has money mules, people traffickers, and other types of con artists.
DigitalMint, which accounts for less than 5% of global BTM transaction traffic, has rejected and refunded $5 million to fraud victims over the last 18 months, according to Sattler, who is also a key contributor to the newly formed Cryptocurrency Compliance Cooperative.
“Large retailers must ensure they understand the vendor they are partnering with and the risk management practices of that firm,” Sattler said during a statement.