Three high school buddies from a tiny Canadian town say that they will flip the switch on the world's first bitcoin ATM next week. It will operate near the entrance of a downtown Vancouver coffee house.
Built by a Nevada company called Robocoin, the machine will trade bitcoins for cash and vice versa. Bitcoin is the world's most popular digital currency, and it exists only on the internet, but it can be traded for traditional dollars and euros. Though bitcoin began as niche technology embraced mostly by internet geeks, it is gradually spreading not only to everyday people, but into the everyday world.
To buy bitcoins with the Robocoin ATM, you need to do a palm scan and then stuff the machine with as much as 3,000 Canadian dollars per day (roughly US$2,900). The machine then makes a trade on Canada's VirtEx exchange and moves them into your online bitcoin wallet. The palm scan is to prevent people from doing more than $3,000 worth of transactions, as that would run afoul of Canada's anti-money-laundering laws, says Mitchell Demeter, one of the Robocoin's new owners.