November 27, 2013 - 3:57 PM
AMONG FIRST TO GET ATM
KELOWNA - A virtual currency is about to have a very real ATM here in Kelowna.
Bitcoin, a new way to invest, transfer, spend and speculate on currency, already has a storefront in Kelowna, one of only two of its kind in the world, and Kelowna store manager Mark Kohlen says a $40,000 ATM will be installed sometime in the next two to three weeks.
The machine will allow bitcoin customers to exchange cash in their bank accounts for bitcoins as well as turn the cyber currency back into dollars.
Bitcoiniacs is a Vancouver-based company that acts as a retailer, sometimes called a bitcoin miner, with one store in downtown Vancouver and as of last week, one on Ellis St. in Kelowna.
“I believe this is how the world is going,” says Kohlen. “It’s a very inexpensive way to transfer funds. Instead of being charged 2.93 per cent to do either a local or international transfer of funds, with bitcoins it can cost only a few cents.”
It takes five to ten minutes to purchase a bitcoin in person, and involves setting up a digital wallet on your computer or smartphone and a cash payment. All transactions are encrypted and stored on an international ledger to avoid duplication.
“Now that everyone is starting to get familiar with it, the buying is just going to go up, and that drives the price up,” says Kohlen.
Once a digital "wallet" is set up on a computer or smartphone, bitcoins can be used to make purchases. Although currently there are only four locations in the Okanagan that are accepting bitcoins as a form of payment, Kohler says that every day he is hearing from more Okanagan businesses interested in the trade.
In January, a Bitcoin cost $12. It reached $995 today.
The price fluctuates based on how many bitcoins are bought and sold. However, customers can spend as little as $5 for a portion of a bitcoin.
Kohlen says that in the four days since his store opened, roughly a hundred people have come through his doors either wanting to buy or who are simply curious.
“It’s about fifty-fifty with some people just trying to get their heads around what a bitcoin is and the others are people who have been following it for some time and want to buy.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250) 718-0428 or tweet @AdamProskiw.
For more information, see this video from Bitcoin.
And here's some analysis by the Wall Street Journal on the genesis and some of the risks.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013