Lightning Strike Taps Bitcoin ATM For Ultimate Withdrawal

Just days before Apple welcomed the world’s most popular bitcoin wallet, Blockchain, back into its App Store, a lightning strike took out Arizona’s one and only Bitcoin ATM. 


Well, obviously. But that’s no comfort to Brian Williams, founder of Javelin Investments LLC and the machine’s owner and operator. “It’s kind of like getting punched in the face,” he told, after a power surge possibly caused by lightning blew through Bookmans Entertainment Exchange in Tucson, Ariz., where the ATM was housed. 

Before the unfortunate act of God that took out the state’s first Bitcoin ATM, around 12 people took advantage of the newfangled money changer, Williams said. Since the machine’s March installation, most of the dozen early adopters used it to purchase $5 or $20 in bitcoin, which was transferred to their digital wallets for easy cellphone purchases via QR code. 

See also: Why We’ll Still Care About Bitcoin Even If It Fades

One customer attempted to buy an entire bitcoin for $600, but the purchase, much like the power surge, proved too much for the machine to handle. Williams had to finalize the exchange via laptop. 

There are currently 145 bitcoin ATMs worldwide and about 25 in the United States … well, approximately 24 now. If the idea of Bitcoin ATMs seems silly to you, check out all the new ways to spend bitcoin that popped up while you weren’t paying attention. 

Whether or not Williams’ $1000 ATM, purchased from Skyhook, can be saved, remains to be seen. “I’m trying to pick up the pieces and trying to figure out where we are at,” he said.

The same could be said for Bitcoin. 

Lead image created by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite, using images by Flickr users Jason Benjamin, Brian Tomlinson and onnola

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