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First Bitcoin ATM Machine Opens

October 29, 2013


The world's first operational Bitcoin ATM on the planet is now open for use this week in Vancouver, Canada....and it's completely free of government interference!

Created by Las Vegas based Robocoin, the new ATM in Vancouver will allow users to turn bitcoins directly into dollars, or turn dollars into bitcoins.

The ATM first scans the user's palm to ensure security and transfers are limited to CAD$3,000 per day. Until now, the currency existed only on the web but the introduction of these ATMs brings bitcoin-as-cash usage closer.

Even on a slow trading period, Bitcoin remains extremely volatile. It is not uncommon to see the currency gain or lose 6% or 7% of its value over the course of a day with no obvious news event driving the change. The average daily change of the S&P 500 is a tenth of that.

The technology behind Bitcoin is similar to public-key encryption, the algorithm behind most internet security. Users have a 'wallet', which is a public address that can send and receive Bitcoins, and a private key with which they can access the wallet. So long as the link between a particular wallet and a user is not made public, the currency can remain fully anonymous.

But if a Bitcoin wallet becomes associated with a particular person, some of the security benefits disappear. Because transactions between wallets are public, it can then become possible to trace transactions.


Bitcoin and Silk Road are closely linked. The site, which enables users to anonymously order drugs, guns, and more through the postal service, only takes payments in the digital currency. Users of Silk Road, which enabled the trade of illegal drugs through the web, are said to have traded some 9.5m Bitcoins since the site launched in 2011. In doing so, it makes it significantly harder for authorities to follow the money to discover the real identities of buyers and sellers.

Bitcoin's record high was $266 but after the news that Ross Ulbricht had been arrested and the Silk Road site seized for running an online drugs marketplace, the exchange rate plummeted to a low of $109.76. The total number of Bitcoins available is thought to be almost 12m.

“Obviously the major price drop was people scrabbling for the exit,” says Jeremy Cook, chief economist at currency brokers World First, who describes Bitcoin as “intrinsically linked” to Silk Road. “You've bought Bitcoin as an investment, or you've bought it as a transactional medium. If it’s one, you’ve just seen a major marketplace shut down, and if it’s the other, the value has dropped suddenly. You will sell it.”

When  the FBI’s seized of 26,000 Bitcoins, worth around $3.25 ands eized the Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht's 26,000 Bitcoin fortune, it raised the simple question: how can you seize a currency that does not exist?

Mitchell Demeter is one of three partners who shelled out more than $90,000 to buy five ATMs that handle bitcoins, the world’s most popular digital currency, and today they’re installing their very first one at Waves Coffee, right next to the provincial courthouse in downtown Vancouver, Canada. As far as we know, this will also be the first operational Bitcoin ATM on the planet.

Trading bitcoins for cash is a bit of a grey area, as far as financial regulations are concerned. In the U.S., companies that do this typically need to register as money transmission businesses with both state and federal regulators. In Canada, however, the regulations aren’t so onerous. That’s why the machine is making its debut there.

The Bitcoin ATM machine scans your palm and then selsl you bitcoins for cash — or vice versa.

The machine will be able to do up to 3,000 dollars worth of transactions per day. You don’t need any form of identification to use the ATM, but it comes equipped with a palm scanner, that’s used to make sure that users don’t exceed the 3,000 per day limit.

“We don’t want drug dealers sending a bunch of coke to the States and then withdrawing cash,” says Warren. “we don’t want these to turn into money laundering machines; that’s the worst thing that could happen.”

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