TORONTO - Bitcoin users will now have six new spots to buy their virtual currency.
CAVIRTEX — the Ottawa company that bills itself as the largest Bitcoin exchange and service provider — launched its fleet of six Bitcoin automated teller machines (BTMs) Wednesday outside of Gateway Newstands locations in Toronto and Mississauga in a response to what it calls a rising interest in cutting out the middlemen of banks.
“It’s an alternative,” said Kyle Kemper, vice-president of development at CAVIRTEX. “For the first time in history, we have the opportunity to choose a new kind of currency to use — it’s instant, no middlemen, low fees, limited in supply and governed by the rules of code. Bankers have let us down time and time again, code won’t let you down.”
Bitcoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer transaction network that allows users to instantly and directly transfer money to anyone over the Internet with zero or minimal fees.
It’s also a digital currency or electronic cash used on the Bitcoin network and allows users to move money without relying on banks or the government.
“To understand what exactly Bitcoin is takes a while,” Kemper said. “A lot of people don’t understand what money is, though.”
The six BTMs are at St. Clair Ave. and Yonge St., the Greyhound station at Bay and Dundas Sts., Brookfield Place, Yorkdale Mall, Scarborough Town Centre and Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga.
There are four others, including in Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Calgary and Vancouver.
To use the machine, you enter your cellphone number, then the code that was texted to your phone. You then select whether you want to buy or sell Bitcoin. The machine will offer to print a paper wallet. From there, you scan the QR code and then insert your cash. The cash will then appear in your account.
The first Bitcoin BTM opened in January at Bitcoin Decentral at 64 Spadina Ave.
There is, however, a finite amount of Bitcoin in the world — $13 million worth at this time.
Selling is not yet enabled on the CAVIRTEX’s machines, but will be in the near future, Kemper said.
The daily exchange limit is $3,000 for buying and selling, and users are charged a variable convenience fee — between 5% to 10%, but online is 0.75% for exchange.
“These machines are capable of additional verification,” Kemper said. “In order to buy above the $3,000 limit, it’s a feature we haven’t turned on yet, but they are capable of scanning IDs and matching it to the user using facial recognition.”
Kemper added Bitcoin is legal and safe to use and the notion that Bitcoin is not regulated is “fairly false because Bitcoin itself is regulated by its code and the Bitcoin exchange, as we take in a lot of Canadian dollars, we have to follow a lot of rules.”
Gateway Newstands’ vice-president of marketing, Noah Aychental, said while Bitcoin is not yet an accepted method of payment in its stores, allowing the BTMs outside their locations is a move “to try to be innovative.”
In Canada, there are approximately 40 BTMs for Bitcoins managed by CAVIRTEX and other similar companies.
“(The Bitcoin movement) started in Vancouver, but Toronto being the financial centre, I think is just a natural fit,” Kemper explained. “Canada was the first to use chip cards, Interac and now we seem to be the fastest adopter of Bitcoin.”