The One-Armed Bitcoin Bandit

When you get tired of spending your money in one of the two Singaporean casinos why not take another gamble and buy some Bitcoin? Thanks to Bitcoin Exchange everyone in Singapore can easily get Bitcoin without the hassle of going through the Internet and opening an account with a bitcoin exchange.

The Bitcoin ATM or Vending Machine is located in the Citylink mall, next to the TCC coffeee shop at #B1-26. Just take the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport, the Singaporean metro system) to City Hall MRT Station, stroll down to the exit gates at Raffles Link, hit some tourists and locals to get a better view,look to your right and you will find the entrance to CityLink mall, which is nothing more than a long tunnel with some shops and restaurants connecting one mall to another mall.

I have a masters degree in Bistromatics but still cannot fathom the reason why Singaporeans spend most of their weekends walking from one mall to another since all malls are basically selling the same overpriced stuff. Countless numbers of tourists arrive here and try to blend in by mimicking this behaviour, expect a lot of bag-carrying people during shopping hours.

While you slowly make your way to the Bitcoin ATM machine, now is the time to imitate some other local behaviour: walking and using your phone at the same time. Watch your environment (the locals won’t) and open the Playstore or whatever App Store that is on your device and install the Bitcoin wallet.

You will need this wallet: a Bitcoin is nothing tangible, but is just some electronic information that must be stored somewhere. Hence the wallet. After installation your wallet have a very long Bitcoin address that is used to send or receive Bitcoin payments. Luckily, if you just want to sent Bitcoin to the friend next to you, you don’t need to type that address, but you can let your phone scan the conventiently provided Quick Response (QR) code. The QR code is that weird looking image containing black square dots. Tap it, and a larger version is shown that can be easily read by other phones. This is also the exact same system the Bitcoin ATM machine will use! Pretty clever.

Wait your turn at the Bitcoin ATM or come early in the morning. In my universe an ATM is usually something that spits out money. This one will take your money but fortunately it cannot run.

The ATM screen displays a humble Start button and the current exchange rate.

Bitcoin ATM Start Screen

Just overcome your fears and press that button! Your fortune awaits! The ATM needs to know your Bitcoin address and asks to scan your QR Code. Easy peasy! Put your money in the machine and press Send Bitcoins when you run out of cash. That’s it!

Bitcoin ATM Send Money

I tried 10 SGD and a few seconds later I received the bitcoins in my mobile wallet. Not the whole 10 SGD that I put in the slot machine, erm, ATM but a bit less, probably due to exchange rate and transaction fees. Unfortunately, no information on transaction fees is available.

My bitcoin mobile wallet

Thanks to this article I am now 0.6335 SGD poorer but it was fun exploring how the Bitcoin ATM works.

To be fair, this is not the first bitcoin vending machine in Singapore, but the second one. The other one is located in the Spiffy Dapper speakeasy bar and I am sure that I will find a visit there much more amusing than my journey into the deeper dungeons of the Singapore MRT.