Trade Phones For Cash With EcoATM

How an unmanned kiosk dispenses cash for old electronics and turns a profit.

EcoATM operates 20 freestanding devices (mostly in California) that are the first step in a global electronics exchange: You could be paid $50 for an old phone and someone across the world will buy it for $150. CMO Mark Bowles showed us how it works with mobile phones, its largest category.

EcoATM

The Kiosk

It scans your old phone for model and condition, calculates how much it would fetch from a reseller, then pays 50% to 80% of that value on the spot.

Gently Used:This accounts for 70% of EcoATM revenue. The company sells to middlemen that resell phones on sites like Overstock and eBay. Their markup can go as high as 20%.

Scuffed Up: Sold to refurbishers that fix and resell to carriers in the developing world, regional American carriers, or insurance companies, with a markup of up to 50%.

Totally Busted: EcoATM pays 60 cents to 80 cents to prep and ship each phone to smelters, which salvage precious metals--gold, platinum, silver--for use in new electronics.

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