It was a bit of a surprise when a Bitcoin ATM that would allow anyone to deposit cash and have it converted to bitcoins showed up in an Albuquerque, N.M., cigar bar in February.
Robocoin, a company that makes Bitcoin ATMs, had been sending reporters notices that they would be opening the first Bitcoin ATMs in Seattle and Austin, but Eric Stromberg and his venture, Enchanted Bitcoins, appeared to beat everyone else to the punch by several days.
Crave's Amanda Kooser was among the first to make a deposit from dollars to bitcoin at an ATM in the United States. The Lamassu ATM that Stromberg set up is a one-way affair, it changes cash to bitcoin, but not vice versa. But when I stopped in to that same Albuquerque cigar bar in late March to make my own deposit as I embarked on an experimental spring break trip funded entirely by Bitcoin, I found only, well...cigars.
I was told by the bartender on duty that the Bitcoin ATM had recently been pulled out and was "probably on its way back to California." She wouldn't speculate on why and wasn't sure of the exact date it was removed.
I've reached out to Stromberg of Enchanted Bitcoins to ask where his ATM has gone and will update this post when I hear back from him.
In February, Stromberg said that he opted to setup shop with his ATM in New Mexico because of the relative lack of regulations around currency distribution in the Land of Enchantment. In California, a six-figure bond is required to setup an ATM, a pretty significant barrier to entry for dealing in a currency that much of the population probably still doesn't understand.
As for my Bitcoin spring break experiment -- it's not going so well. Not only has the ATM I planned to use gone MIA, so have the funds I tried to move to an anonymous Bitcoin-backed Visa debit card. More on that later.