When I lived in Vancouver, I didn’t find it particularly cutting-edge. Sure, a bunch of our favorite TV shows such as the X Files, Battlestar Galactica, and Fringe, among others, were filmed there back when the exchange rate was a bit more favorable, but in terms of the implementation of cutting-edge technology into the city’s infrastructure, the city wasn’t particularly noteworthy, especially compared to Boston, where I live now. But Vancouver’s about to get some serious bragging rights among forward-thinkers: the first ATM that dispenses Bitcoins.
If you haven’t heard, Bitcoin is decentralized digital crypto-currency that isn’t affiliated with any particular country or central authority. The peer-to-peer network validates and regulates transactions and allows people to keep a “digital wallet” or account. Bitcoins can be converted into dollars, pounds, yen—you name it. The creation of new bitcoin currency is slowing down, there are 21 million in circulation, and no new ones will be issued. We’re currently just over halfway there, and bitcoins have been making news and gaining popularity for a while now, especially given currency fluctuations. Vendors such as WordPress accept them as payment, and Mars One intends bitcoin to be the primary currency if and when their Mars colony comes to fruition.
Canadian company Bitcoiniacs has purchased five bitcoin ATMs produced by a Nevada-based company Robocoin. Because there are no ATM cards, the Robocoin machine will identify users via a palm scan. The machines can then exchange bitcoins for Canadian dollars, or vice versa, in amounts up to 3,000 Canadian dollars per day. The first machine will be installed in downtown Vancouver, and the others will eventually be installed in other big Canadian cities, like Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Ottawa.
Given that Canada recently made the enviable decision to ditch the penny (seriously, aside from sentimentality and good luck, what good are they?), so between that and the Robocoin ATM, they seem to be paving the way for the currency of the future. I’ll never come around on poutine, though.