Innovation That Matters

Kiosks let travelers swap their leftover change for Bitcoin

Travel & Tourism

Globetrotters with leftover foreign currency can now exchange their cash for Bitcoin through Gibraltar-based Travelers Box.

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We first wrote about Bitcoin in 2011 when it was still in beta and had just reached parity with USD. Over two years later and the digital currency is dominating the news after positive comments by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke recently, which contributed to a record surge to USD 900. Now globetrotters with leftover foreign currency can exchange their cash for Bitcoin through Gibraltar-based Travelers Box.

Currently operating in Ataturk Airport in Turkey, the startup’s vending machines are designed to help those leaving the country swap their loose change for a currency that will be more useful when they arrive back home. Rather than a traditional foreign exchange, the kiosks offer the option of trading in Turkish money for Bitcoin, which — although it isn’t yet accepted by the majority of online retailers, let alone high street stores — is not confined by national boundaries. The machines use the Mt. Gox exchange rate and the currency is deposited electronically into users’ e-wallets. Additionally, the kiosks also enables users to transfer the cash straight into their PayPal or Qiwi accounts, have it donated to one of a number of charities, or turn it into gift cards to spend at online stores such as Amazon and iTunes. Either way, tourists and business travelers can avoid having any foreign currency they take with them go to waste once it’s followed them to a different country.

At the time of writing, Travelers Box has actually pulled the service from its kiosks due to an overwhelming demand. The team is hoping to redesign its process in order to reinstate Bitcoin transfers as soon as it can. It is also in talks with 40 other international airports to install the machines.

The service has hit on a desire of regular travelers for currency that can be stored safely, can technically be used in all countries and online, and doesn’t subjected to bank fees or time delays in the exchange process. Given that visionary entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson recently announced that Virgin Galactic would accept Bitcoin as payment for its private spaceflights, could services dealing with exchange of the cryptocurrency soon be a common sight?

Spotted by, written by Springwise



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