Chris McAlary Founded and Grew Coin Cloud Against All Odds
Chris McAlary is a pioneer in the cryptocurrency industry. From early Bitcoin miner to founder and CEO of Coin Cloud, the world’s largest network of two-way digital currency kiosks, McAlary has definitely left his mark.
He began dabbling in Bitcoin in 2010, just a year after its launch. There was only one exchange in existence at the time, and it was based in Japan. But as an online poker player who had lost money in major website shutdowns, McAlary didn’t trust offshore exchanges. The only logical alternative was to mine it himself.
The Wild West
After throwing together his own Bitcoin mining rig — his first-ever attempt at building computer hardware — and writing his own scripts, McAlary was able to mine his first bitcoins. But the problem remained with how to trade it. By then local decentralized markets had cropped up, which allowed members to connect personally and make their own deals. These early bitcoin-for-cash trades were done face-to-face with strangers, in seedy places like coffee shops and casinos. There was no guarantee you wouldn’t get scammed, robbed or worse. After a handful of questionable experiences, McAlary no longer wanted to take his chances with risky in-person meetings. He knew there had to be a better way.
In 2013, he came across Robocoin, a Las Vegas company that had created a Bitcoin ATM prototype. Due to strict regulations in the US, that first BTM was installed in Vancouver, BC. Suddenly, history was made.
While Robocoin didn’t last long, they provided the impetus for McAlary to start researching the law in the hopes of launching Bitcoin ATMs in Nevada. The first Coin Cloud BTM was installed on the Las Vegas Strip in 2014 — built by Robocoin, branded by Coin Cloud, and serviced by McAlary himself. Whenever there was a problem with the machine, he would go there himself to take care of it. Whenever a customer service call came in, he would field it on his own.