A startup that makes a machine that turns regular currency into Bitcoins has now started accepting pre-orders for the device. Lamassu, based in Portugal, plans to initially make 15 of its Bitcoin Machines and the company says it will ship those in September, and the rest of its pre-orders will ship by the end of the year.
The device costs $5,000 and Lamassu CEO Zach Harvey says in an email that the preliminary production run has already been funded with orders paid in Bitcoin. Harvey told me at a recent Bitcoin event in London that he thinks the Bitcoin Machine lowers the barrier to entry to get into using Bitcoins, and that “if you’ve never bought Bitcoins, this is the fastest, easiest way to do it.”
As I wrote last month, the future of the controversial cyber currency will depend on the next wave of innovative startups, and the apps, products, exchanges and platforms they create. Regulation of Bitcoins will also play a key role, as various governments around the world have taken different approaches to working with the currency.
Lamassu says its Machine can convert regular currency (over 200 types) into Bitcoin in 15 seconds, is compatible with major exchanges like Mt. Gox and Bitstamp, and fits on a desktop. However, given the nascent stage of Bitcoins — and the early stage at which countries are dealing with the currency — the company advises that you consult an attorney before operating one in your area. And in the U.S. (one of the countries with the most aggressive restrictions surrounding Bitcoin companies) Lamassu says customers need to sign a due diligence questionnaire before the Machine can ship.