Coinstar and Coinme: Is It Worth It?
Recently on The Coin Boys, a cryptocurrency podcast, we discussed Coinstar and Coinme’s partnership where you can get bitcoin from Coinstar kiosks in most of the West Coast and scattered throughout the US. For your convenience we have placed the entire podcast above, so feel free to take a listen.
When we first heard the news many rejoiced and cheered because this was it! This was the mass adoption we were looking for! Now that the hype has gone down a but, we can finally take a look at what is really going on here. Now the question becomes, is this really the answer we were hoping for?
First the facts. I just want to repeat, this is not at every Coinstar. That is to be expected though. It is a slow process but they are at least willing to give it a try and see where it goes.
Next, it is prominent. It is right there when you first see it at the kiosk. You are given four options as you can see from the picture below (Excuse the bad image, but when you take a picture of a screen while holding a baby who wants to touch the screen… this is what happens. It will happen a few times throughout the story but bear with me). It’s option 4 after cash, a gift card, and donations.
I had been debating for a while on what I wanted to do with my spare change that I have been saving for my daughter, so once I heard this news I went strait to my nearest Coinstar to invest in a little bitcoin for her. With my Stay Puft Marshmallow Man piggy bank in hand, I was ready and excited to invest. So was he as you can tell from his smile.
After walking into my local store I walked up, chose the bitcoin option, and saw this:
Womp Womp… well at least I knew it was almost ready. Out of curiosity though I went to another store that had a Coinstar and EUREKA! It was enabled. The first thing you see is the terms and conditions. Pretty standard, but I noticed two big things.
Zero Anonymity and most importantly… IT DOESN’T ACCEPT COINS??? Are you kidding? Do you know how heavy a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man full of change is? What a disappointment.
So, in order for you to officially turn your change into Bitcoin you have to first use Coinstar to turn your change into Cash. Which I wouldn’t mind, except it is around an 11% fee at my place. Not too bad because it saves me time in counting the change myself, but not that small a fee either. Then once you do that you can purchase your bitcoin. Which is also another fee on top of that. Since I was already sketchy, and since I prefer to not be charged a lot in fees on my bitcoin I stopped. Although I have heard that it’s still cheap by comparison to other BTMs.
The final fact is that you do not actually get your bitcoin from the Coinstar itself. You are required to open a Coinme account and upload your information (as was alluded to in the picture above). From there you can redeem the voucher you were given at the Coinstar and get your bitcoin.
Personally I saw a lot of negatives about this whole process. One of the great things about BTMs are that you can be anonymous, although it does come at a steep price, but that is still my choice to make.
Secondly the amount of steps needed to accomplish this process is far too many. Bitcoin is already complicated for the average user to use and understand as is. For a first time user, this is like trying to escape from a straitjacket while navigating a labyrinth built by David Bowie. This is my opinion though, as someone who has been in the space for a while.
“Yeah there might be some extra hoops or fees…. They’re probably just trying to get a little extra cash. It is what it is, it’s a business. But the matter of fact is it’s good for the overall space… It is some form of additional adoption.”Nye, on The Coin Boys Podcast
Ultimately I am looking at it like this, It’s not the hero we asked for, but it’s the hero we got. Just the fact that a Bitcoin logo is in a major shopping area in America is a win. Although if you hear any of your friends mention that they want to use it, try and help them understand what they are doing and maybe navigate them to a better exchange with better rates and less fees.
How do you feel about all this? Are Coinstar and Coinme being absolutely ridiculous with what they expect from the consumer? Or is this a legit win for adoption? Be sure to check out The Coin Boys on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Google Play. Also you can email us or call us at 424-372-7437 with any questions or opinions you’d like to share with the podcast.