Waves Coffee House in Vancouver, Canada, yesterday became the first business to open a Bitcoin ATM. Bitcoin, the anonymous crypto-currency, is available to exchange for Canadian dollars via Canada’s VirtEx exchange. Although the actual transactions are anonymous, customers must confirm their identity through a palm scanner. To protect itself against Canadian money laundering laws, the system also limits transfers to CAN$1,000 a day.
Bitcoiniacs operates the new ATM, founded by Mitchell Demeter, and he explains why their ATMs aren’t as anonymous. “Every transaction you make is recorded on a public ledger. Your name isn’t attached to it, but if somebody wants to find out who is making that transaction, it can be done.”
Robocoin Technologies manufactures these new Bictoin ATMs. They say their kiosk operators “get to be the hero when working harmoniously with authorities,” which explains the machine’s palm scanning process as an anti-money laundering effort. Robocoin Kiosks weigh over 750 pounds and its infrastructure is protected by a VPN endpoint, ensuring that user information is never accessible from the public internet.
Four more Bitcoin ATMs are set to roll out this December in possible Canadian cities like Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Ottawa. Demeter is confident they will be successful among local businesses because they assist in avoiding high credit card transaction fees.
The virtual currency launched in 2008 and is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority. Each virtual Bitcoin is currently worth about US$205 each. Recently, Bitcoin usage has been growing in popularity, particularly among young people throughout Latin America.