- Coinme, the first licensed bitcoin kiosk company in the U.S., has announced a collaboration with Coinstar to allow customers in 21 states and District of Columbia to purchase bitcoin at more than 2,200 participating Coinstar kiosks, according to a press release.
- Coinstar's coin-counting kiosks are widely available inside grocery stores including Albertsons, Shaw’s, Save Mart and Safeway. Coinme, which previously had just 70 kiosks, said it now powers the largest Bitcoin kiosk network in the world through the partnership.
- In order for customers to buy bitcoin at Coinstar, they must follow steps on the machine and insert U.S. paper money up to $2,500 into the cash acceptor. The machine will then produce a voucher with a bitcoin redemption code, which customers can redeem on the Coinme website.
Less than 10% of the population owns digital currency, but cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are growing in popularity, particularly among young millennials and college students. To appeal to these shoppers and remain relevant as cryptocurrency expands, some retailers have started to accept the digital currency. Whole Foods, for example, is among a handful of retailers that began accepting bitcoin for payment earlier this month through an app called Spedn.
Cryptocurrency faced a boom in 2017 but a year later came crashing down as the price of bitcoin fell about 65% in early 2018. The cryptocurrency market lost about $342 billion during the first quarter of 2018 and by the end of the year, the currency dropped another 80% from January 2018. Now, the currency is back in the black and pacing for its best month in more than two years after its value surged as much as 71% in May.
While Coinme and Coinstar are trying to cash in on cryptocurrencies as they bounce back from their 2018 downfall, grocers could be the real winners here. The demand for bitcoin along with the convenience of Coinstar could drive consumers into their stores — particularly the younger demographics that grocery retailers want to win over. Grocers can target these consumers further with impulse buys or ads near Coinstar kiosks, or with special offers for customers who use the machine.
So far, only about 11% of Coinstar machines will offer bitcoin, but if the kiosks do prove to be popular for purchasing bitcoin, more grocers may decide to accept the currency in their stores, which could drive more sales.
The collaboration is mutually beneficial for Coinme and Coinstar. Coinme will gain the convenience and visibility of an in-store kiosk, and Coinstar will have a new use for shoppers, many of whom may not possess cash and coins the way they used to.