If you’re ready to take the leap into the world of cryptocurrency, you have only to go as far as your local Hannaford or Shaw’s grocery store.
Coinme, launched in 2014 in Seattle, has teamed up with Coinstar to offer bitcoin in its change-counting kiosks located in grocery stores across the nation. All you need is a valid mobile phone number, a driver’s license or state I.D. card, and cash in U.S. dollars. Coinme does not accept coins, ironically enough.
In exchange for your cash, you’ll receive a voucher, which is essentially a receipt, said Coinme co-founder and CEO Neil Bergquist. The voucher has a code that you can use on the Coinme website or mobile app to deposit your bitcoin into your bitcoin wallet that you’ve set up previously.
Bitcoin is an “experimental new currency that is in active development,” according to its website. It is not an official currency, but is still subject to income, sales, payroll, and capital gains taxes. One of its most attractive features is that it can be used to send and receive payments anywhere in the world at any time. But as the website warns, bitcoin should be seen as a “high-risk asset” that should never be used to store money you can’t afford to lose.
If you convert cash to bitcoin at your local Coinme-enabled Coinstar kiosk, you’ll pay about 11% of the transaction value as a fee. Alternatively, if you use your Coinme wallet on the website or mobile app to download bitcoin using a debit card, you’ll only pay about a 2% fee, according to Bergquist.
By the way, those physical bitcoins you’ve seen in stories about cryptocurrency — they’re imaginary. But bitcoin is not imaginary as a medium of exchange. You could use it to buy a gift card at Home Depot and purchase a riding mower if you wanted to, Bergquist said.
“Lots of companies will be happy to take your bitcoin,” he said. “You can get a hotel booking on Expedia.com. You can spend on Overstock.com, Shopify, Microsoft, AT&T and Dish Network.”
Live the multi-currency life with bitcoin and cash
Bitcoin is also liquid. You can exchange it for dollars using your debit card, according to Bergquist. The value of bitcoin does fluctuate, which is why Bergquist advises against putting all your eggs in the bitcoin basket.
“I think that it’s important people live a multi-currency life,” Bergquist said. “When the stimulus checks started coming out in 2020, the people who put them in bitcoin nearly tripled their money, where people who held dollar are dealing with double-digit inflation. That’s an example of how bitcoin outperforms the dollar.”
Bergquist acknowledges that things could have gone the other way for those folks who put their stimulus checks into bitcoin, if the cryptocurrency had gone down in value.
Coinme has more than 21,000 location across the United States and is within five miles of 90% of the American population, according to Bergquist. The company is in every state except New York, which takes an exceptionally long time to grant a license for selling cryptocurrency. Coinme has been waiting for about 15 months so far. Once he gets into New York City, Bergquist said, Coinme will be within 5 miles of about 95% of the population.
In Chittenden County, Coinme is available in Coinstar kiosks in the following locations:
- Hannaford, 935 Shelburne Road, South Burlington.
- Shaw’s, 570 Shelburne Road, South Burlington.
- Shaw’s, 66 Mountain View Drive, Colchester.
- Shaw’s, 71 Boxwood St., Williston.
Contact Dan D’Ambrosio at 802-660-1841 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DanDambrosioVT. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.