Vancouver, Canada is now home to a Bitcoin ATM machine. It was installed at a downtown coffee shop on Monday (Oct 28) by Vancouver-based Bitcoiniacs, a bitcoin exchange store, that plans to install more ATMs in Toronto, Ottawa and other parts of Canada.
The ATM, that went live on Tuesday (October 29), doesn't accept debit or credit cards. Instead it converts bitcoins, an increasingly popular digital currency, into Canadian dollars and vice-versa. The machine scans the palm of a potential customer before exchanging up to $3000 (£1870) worth of bitcoins every day. According to Wired.com. the machine takes a customer's money and gives numbers that link to bitcoins. If a customer trades bitcoins instead of paper currency, the machine will scan a QR code on the customer's mobile phone and hand out cash.
Unlike conventional money and other digital currencies, Bitcoin runs through a peer-to-peer network, independent of central control.
Supporters say using Bitcoin offers benefits including faster speed, lower fraud risk and increased privacy, though critics argue the anonymity it offers makes the currency a magnet for drug transactions, money-laundering and other illegal activities.
Bitcoin was recently in the headlines after U.S. law enforcement authorities shut down Silk Road, an online marketplace used to buy and sell illegal drugs.
Silk Road allowed tech-savvy sellers to post ads for drugs and other illegal products, which they sold for bitcoins and shipped to customers through the mail, according to the federal criminal charges filed against the company.