While cryptocurrencies have been a dominant force in newsrooms worldwide thanks in no small part to the meteoric rise of Bitcoin in recent years, blockchain has only just started to dominate the public consciousness.

The cryptocurrency phenomenon may be in full swing, but we’re yet to see the decentralized digital currency successfully integrate practically with everyday life. 

Consider the fact that the number of bitcoin wallet addresses is growing every year.

Image Source: Medium

This could all soon change with a number of companies racing to develop the world’s first cryptocurrency vending machines.

Many people in the pasts have held the belief that cryptocurrencies were something that trades for thousands of dollars and remains inaccessible to ordinary workers.

However, through crypto-vending machines we are presented with a watershed moment where digital wallets could be used to securely and automatically purchase relatively low-cost items – and in some cases, age restricted items like alcohol.

The beauty of crypto-vending machines is that with the assistance of blockchain technology, users can safely and securely make purchases through a machine that’s capable of identifying whether the customer is of legal age to buy its goods.

Simplifying the complex.

San-Francisco-based startup Civic chose to showcase a “crypto beer vending machine” at the 2018 CoinDesk Consensus summit in New York. Their logic was simple: they wanted to show the world how easy it can be for technology to successfully sell age-restricted content with no human input.

Image Source: Bitcoin Magazine

The vending machine works through the Civic App.

Those who download it can verify their age and approach any of the company’s machines and make a purchase securely.

Explaining to CoinDesk, Civic’s Titus Capilnean explained: “We’ve been thinking about practical ways of bringing crypto technology to a more mainstream audience. Now can we go very specific — and niche — that it’s easy to understand for a regular individual. Proof of age seemed like the best low-hanging fruit.”

The perceived potential of vending machines possessing the power to bring an air of commonality to cryptocurrencies is so great that there are plenty of companies that are preparing to bring blockchain-infused microtransactions into everyday life. One such company is GoByte – a cryptocurrency based on Dash that’s looking to bring quick and secure microtransactions into the mainstream.

The platform of Dash is a particularly powerful one when it comes to the sorts of microtransactions that will take place in vending machines. It’s considerably faster than its competitors at processing payments and easier for developers to work with – indicating that the world’s first fully operative vending machine will likely harness this technology.

The case for security.

The very notion of a vending machine being so intuitive that it’s positively cutting edge is a quirky one. Vending machines have been disappearing from locations – 134,000 of them between 2007 and 2010 to be precise, across the USA. The machines have been slow to adapt to paperless money. These older machines are rigidly limited to what they can sell, due to the lack of human supervision.

The likes of GoByte and similar-minded endeavours have the potential to breathe fresh life into what was once a pioneering piece of technology in itself. If the immutable potential of blockchain can be realised in a way that can aid customers to buy age-restricted beverages, as well as other content, then a vending machine revival could be on the cards.

While the security of accessing age-restricted items would be a pertinent matter for developers, so too is the process of making secure transactions – which is something that Dash hopes to capitalise on in its InstantX technology.

The InstantX Soda Machine is designed to facilitate lightning fast transactions by utilising Dash’s second-tier masternode network to lock in transactions. This network helps to prevent the user from accidentally double-paying when attempting to make a purchase and is so quick that the transfer of money takes less than a second to take place.

Implications for the future.

Crypto vending machines may ultimately be seen as the cornerstone that leads to even bigger, more intricate developments in making micro-transactions an everyday occurrence.

There are plenty of transactions that occur which could benefit from the security and speed of blockchain, from making secure in-store purchases and the buying of tickets to events like sports matches and concerts. Blockchain also gives us a much-needed layer of confidence in keeping age-restricted products out of the wrong hands and could be deployed to help the sales of cinema tickets, or even invite-only events.

Indeed, with so many startups looking to break into the crypto-vending market, it seems only a matter of time before we can start to consider using our virtual money to make real-life purchases. With the added security of blockchain helping to boost our collective confidence along the way, buying a can of fizzy drink will never have been so easy.

Dmytro Spilka

Dmytro Spilka

Dmytro is a CEO at Solvid, a creative content creation agency based in London. He's also the founder of Pridicto, a web analytics startup. His work has been featured in various publications, including Entrepreneur.com, TechRadar, Hackernoon, TNW, Huff Post, and ReadWrite.