Business, Economics and Jobs

World's first bitcoin ATM opens in Vancouver coffee shop (VIDEO)


Gabriel Scheare uses the world's first bitcoin ATM on October 29, 2013 at Waves Coffee House in Vancouver, British Columbia. Scheare said he "just felt like being part of history." The ATM, owned by an American company called Robocoin, allows users to buy or sell the digital currency for Canadian dollars.


David Ryder

The world’s first bitcoin ATM opened late Monday in Vancouver when Jason Lamarche deposited a $20 bill into a Robocoin machine inside Waves coffee shop and received one-tenth of a bitcoin in return.

Not exactly history-making amounts, but nonetheless notable for Lamarche. How did it feel to be part of history?

“It was amazing,” he told Wired. “It was super convenient. It was easy to use.”

Welcome to the future. At least according to Mitchell Demeter, co-founder of the Vancouver-based Bitcoiniacs.

It was Demeter who brought the ATM to Waves. He plans on bringing four more into Canada within the next few weeks, probably in cities like Toronto and Montreal, although exact locations are to be determined.

He told The Globe and Mail the ATMs allow people to buy and sell the internet currency with greater ease than the online exchanges.

“It just makes it easier for people to send assets around the world instantly, with basically no fees and no middlemen,” Demeter told the Globe.

“Everyone’s free to make up their own mind. We don’t really try to convince anybody, or sell it on anybody. But when people do their own research, they really quickly see the virtues.”

Users can buy bitcoins by depositing Canadian dollars into the machine, or they can sell bitcoins from their online accounts and receive cash from the machine.

More from GlobalPost: Former bitcoin gambling addict laments losses

Robocoin, the manufacturer, said its machines are convenient because you can skip the drawn-out online verification process and get bitcoin within 15 seconds after the machine scans your palm print and creates a virtual wallet for you.

Demeter told CBC News his company was buying bitcoins for about $183 and selling them for about $210.

“It is the best performing currency in the world,” he said. “It has grown over a thousand per cent year after year, for the last four years. So people are using it also as an investment.”

Bitcoin, developed in 2009, is called the “currency of the internet.” It’s not tied to any national currency or commodity, like gold.

Proponents say it’s better than cash because you can buy or sell goods more securely without high transaction fees or “middlemen.”

Canada earned the honor of becoming the first nation in the world with a bitcoin ATM because of how the government views the virtual currency.

In most American states, you would need a money transmission license to operate a Robocoin machine, Wired reported.

Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre says bitcoin is “neither funds, nor the currency of a country” and thus not subject to strict regulation.

More from GlobalPost: ATMs to allow you to exchange money for bitcoins