Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

World’s first ATM for bitcoins opens in Vancouver cafe

Machine checks identity by scanning your palm

Customers queue to use the new bitcoin ATM in Vancouver cafe
Customers queue to use the new bitcoin ATM in Vancouver cafe
A user scans a QR code on their smart phone to transfer bitcoins (Getty)
A user scans a QR code on their smart phone to transfer bitcoins (Getty)
Bitcoin is an experimental digital currency that has gained popularity worldwide (Getty)
Bitcoin is an experimental digital currency that has gained popularity worldwide (Getty)

As ATMs go, it’s an unusual one.

A kiosk has been set up in a Vancouver coffee shop that lets customers make transactions without needing a bank account or a plastic card. The blue-black box resembles a standard bank cash machine, but is in fact the first real-world portal to the virtual world of bitcoins.

Installed this week at the Waves coffee shop in a trendy district of the Canadian city, the machine lets you buy and sell the virtual currency known as bitcoins using old-world cash. A limit on transfers of $1,000 a day stops money laundering.

The machine first checks your identity by scanning your palm. To buy bitcoins you select how much money you want to spend, and insert cash; alternatively you select how much cash you want to redeem. You then scan a QR code on your mobile phone to transfer the bitcoins to or from your virtual wallet.

Using the ATM is a “two-minute process”, Jordan Kelley, boss of Robocoin, its Las Vegas-based manufacturer, told Reuters. “For an online exchange, it’s at least two days.”

The ATMs could be a first step in taking bitcoins mainstream. Bitcoins are not issued by an official authority. Instead, their supply and transactions depend on the Bitcoin network, which works like a peer-to-peer file sharing network.

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