UPDATE (27th July 16:31 BST): Updated with statements from Peter Klamka.
The man behind a Mike Tyson-branded bitcoin ATM in Las Vegas has defended the initiative after accusations it was a scam surfaced today.
This weekend, the ex-heavyweight champion of the world tweeted to his 4.8 million followers that the ATM would be “Changing the way we get change”.
With a launch date of 30th August, the machine promised to offer cash-to-bitcoin services in under 20 seconds, 10 seconds faster than Iron Mike’s knockout record.
Coming soon… http://t.co/Blf592VtUW… Changing the way we get change.
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) July 25, 2015
While some hailed the news as good PR for bitcoin, questions about the legitimacy of the project soon surfaced following a closer look at the site’s domain owner, Peter Klamka, and the project’s partner, Bitcoin Direct LLC.
SiliconANGLE reporter Duncan Riley noted the patchy internet trail of Klamka’s firm Bitcoin Brands Inc, an over-the-counter (OTC) stock with a market cap of just $6,780 and no visible product offerings.
Unlike stocks which appear on NASDAQ or the NYSE, OTC stocks – which involve small companies – are unlisted, which can make it difficult to find details about them.
For Riley, these details suggested the ATM had the potential to be a scam at Tyson’s expense.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Klamka strongly refuted these statements. The ATMs are real, he said, and Tyson has an “even split” of equity due to the way the license is structured. Meanwhile, Bitcoin Brands – which Klamka maintains is not affiliated with his work with Tyson – currently operates two ATMs, one in New York and another in Montreal.
“Nothing happened yet other than we announced the product. We’re not trying to raise any money, he’s telling them ‘I have an ATM coming’ in the same way he says ‘I have t-shirts coming’, except nobody asks all these questions about the t-shirt maker.”
According to Nevada records, Bitcoin Direct LLC filed only four months ago, in April 2015. The company, which bills itself as a “bitcoin transaction solutions provider” in its press materials, owns two General Bytes ATMs in the Vegas area, Tyson’s home, one in a mixed martial arts centre and another in a cigar shop.
The company has links to a beef supplier, Conexus Cattle Corp, who bought a controlling stake in May. However, Klamka maintains that is where the relationship ends. “They are a financing partner … maybe tomorrow it will be a different entity, maybe not,” he said.
The reason why the company has no online presence, Klamka said, was because it has been set up purely for “celebrity bitcoin licensing” opportunities, including the Tyson ATM, which he maintained would be the ex-champion’s “George Foreman grill”.