The first bitcoin ATM opened this week at an espresso café in Vancouver, Canada, making it easier for people to exchange the virtual currency for cash.
Reporters turned out in mobs to cover the ATM’s opening, highlighting the first user, Victoria Hansen, who bought $200 worth of bitcoins, New York Magazine reported
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Unlike regular ATMs, the blue and silver bitcoin machine sports hand and barcode scanners. The machine’s easy access is expected to increase the popularity of bitcoins, which have escalated in value from $13 in January to $266 in April, Reuters said
. The bitcoin is worth about $200 today.
The up-and-down value of bitcoins has held some investors back but The New York Times said many expect the currency to become more mainstream
“I’m confident you will see major worldwide retailers adopting systems built on bitcoin,” Jim Breyer, venture capitalist and early Facebook investor, told the Times.
Bitcoins are transferred without fees typically associated with other financial transactions, Reuters said. More and more products and services are starting to accept the currency.
At the ATM, hand scanners check an individual’s identity before moving bitcoins into or out of a virtual wallet on a smartphone, Reuters said. Bitcoiniacs is the Canadian dealer that owns the ATM, and it is planning to put four more in the country in December.
The company chose to start with Canada because regulations aren’t as strict and bitcoins aren’t recognized as currency, unlike the United States where anti-money laundering watchdogs monitor the market, Reuters said.
“We’re already being proactive in our business,” Mitchell Demeter, Bitcoiniacs co-founder, told Reuters. “We abide by any guidelines they would impose – which includes the ‘know your customer’ laws and anti-money laundering laws.”
Government regulators are paying more attention to businesses working with bitcoins, the New York Times said. The Treasury Department issued directives that businesses working with digital currencies must register as money services businesses, the Times said.
That slowed up some businesses considering taking the new currency, like Overstock.com, which held off until all the legal issues are cleared up, the Times said.
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