The Evolution of the Bitcoin Vending Machine

A Cryptocurrency vending machine has been found at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Just recently MIT Media Lab’s Ethan Zuckerman tweeted to his followers about the campus’ machine, which accepts bitcoin and is stocked with nothing but Soylent meal replacement drinks.

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The Bitcoin-Friendly Vending Machine at MIT Media Lab

Previously, the machine was stocked with unique natural and organic food bars and snacks. Now, it contains nothing but Soylent and also accepts bitcoin. 

MIT Media Lab’s Ethan Zuckerman posted a photo of the machine on Twitter, which quickly went viral. 

Bitcoin-Only Automated Vending Could Be the Future

MIT is not the first to display a vending machine that accepts cryptocurrency. In fact, it’s been done numerous times since early 2012.

Chris Smolen, founder of Utica-based Upstate Networks created a vending machine that allows customers to use bitcoin. Smolen said that, at the time, he believed Bitcoin could revolutionize these types of machines. “I [thought] it could be as big as email in terms of the advent of the Internet,” Smolen explained. “Once people realize the ease of these payments, they’ll never go back to Visa or MasterCard.”

In April of 2014, cannabis startup American Green implemented Bitcoin into the ZaZZZ marijuana vending machine. Instead of food and drinks, ZaZZZ dispenses cannabis edibles and samples of medical marijuana. The company said the machine would be quite beneficial to the cannabis dispensary industry. The machine has made its initial appearance in the state of Colorado and Seattle.


During 2015’s Porcfest event, a fully functional Bitcoin vending machine called Metalith was showcased for attendees. The machine offers both fiat currency and Bitcoin use and also has the ability to change dollars into cryptocurrency. had a chance to discuss the project with the creator Derrick Slopey of Alien Seed Software who said that Metalith was a hit at Porcfest as lots of people tried it out.


The startup Aeguana has created very small vending machines that accept bitcoin and traditional fiat currencies. The machine has its own WiFi built in and stereo surround sound as well. Users can pay with cryptocurrency or other versions of contactless payments such as NFC providers. WiFi is always connected, and if a user Tweets the machine via Twitter, they can receive discounts on the products sold.

In February of 2015 the Philadelphia-based, Liberty Vending, LLC, announced it is working on software to bring Bitcoin payments to the company’s vending machine network. Owner Tom Truitt said he had been working with the software developers at Nimbleus. The firm will enable QR codes for the machines payment features. Truitt tells the news publication the PhillyVoice, “I have no doubt in my mind that Nimbleus will provide a state-of-the-art software system,” Truitt said. “They have a very good track record.”

Vending Machine Industry Could Benefit from Bitcoin

The decline in vending machine use has continued over the past decade as you barely see them anymore just like payphones. However, with the use of cryptocurrency solutions like Bitcoin it could be a game changer for those hosting these devices. Bitcoin transactions provide more security and transfer of funds can be fully automated as human labor and cash handling costs are eliminated. Vending machines tethered to Bitcoin could have a bright future together if more owners decide to utilize the decentralized cryptocurrency with these nostalgic self-automated vendors.

What do you think about Bitcoin and vending machines? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Derrick Slopey, ZaZZZ