Bitcoin, the digital currency is currently installing two Bitcoin ATMS in Austin, Texas and Seattle. These ATMS will be the first introduced in the US. The ATMS will let users swap Bitcoins for cash with a valid ID. Now, what exactly is a Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a digital currency you can use for personal transactions or business at high speed and low cost. It was introduced in 2009 under an anonymous developer, to use for private purchases. Because of this, the company has received a lot of backlash for users abusing the currency for illicit activities. In 2013, the US FBI actually shut down the Silk Road online black market and seized 144,000 Bitcoins worth $28.5 million at the time. The current value of one Bitcoin is about $636.
Some businesses, such as Overstock.com, Subway shops andVirgin Galactic, have begun accepting Bitcoin. To actually use Bitcoins, one must create a Robocoin account which is surprisingly a complicated process. To create a Robocoin account, a user enters their mobile phone number at one of the kiosks. The machine sends a code to that phone and, after the user enters the code, they are asked to scan the palm of their hand.The user is then asked to insert a driver’s license or other government-issued ID, verifying the user’s name against government watch lists for terrorists or others who may not legally do business in the machine’s home country. Then, the user takes a photo at the kiosk, which must be verified as a match with the picture on their ID card. Like I said, it ain’t easy.
The use of a virtual wallet, has actually been slowly introduced through traditional banking. PNC Bank has recently released their own Virtual Wallet, which makes all your transactions online (you deposit/withdrawl from a glorified ATM). Many work places have also introduced direct deposits, in which you never physically have a check– it goes straight to your bank account. You can pay your bills online too! The future of currency, may one day lead to a global online currency such as the Bitcoin. Hopefully by then, it will be easier to regulate and ensure safety for its users.