What's believed to be the first Bitcoin ATM in the world will go live next week in Vancouver, operated by Nevada-based Robocoin and Vancouver's Bitcoiniacs.
Mitchell Demeter, co-founder of Vancouver bitcoin trading company Bitcoiniacs and part-owner of Robocoin, has invested in five such machines to be placed across Canada.
Bitcoins are an emerging digital currency that isn't controlled by any authority such as a central bank. It’s an idea that is moving into the mainstream, despite the scandal surrounding Silk Road, an anonymous online marketplace for illegal drugs and other illicit goods that used Bitcoins.
Silk Road was shut down and its owner arrested on narcotics charges earlier this month.
The new ATM, to operate near downtown Vancouver coffee house Waves, will trade Canadian dollars for online Bitcoins. Users are required to do a palm scan and are permitted to exchange up to $3,000 per a day.
Canadian cash is exchanged on Canada’s VirtEx exchange for Bitcoins, which are then entered in your online bitcoin wallet. Transactions will be anonymous.
The palm scan is to limit people to less than $3,000 worth of transactions, and avoid tangling with Canada’s anti-money-laundering laws, says Demeter, who adds that he believes he is complying with all Canadian laws
Bitcoins currently trade for close to $200, but have swung widely in value from $13 to $250 in the past year. Until now, most have been traded person-to-person in individual transactions or through various unregulated exchanges that exist mostly online.
Last year, a bitcoin exchange in Europe, Bitcoin-Central, was authorized to operate as a bank. Robocoin, which showed the ATMs at a California conference earlier this year, says the Vancouver ATM is the first to begin operation.
Bitcoiniacs says it's eyeing major Canadian cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa for the other four machines, to come in December.
"Basically, it just make it easier for people to buy and sell Bitcoins and hopefully will drive the adoption of Bitcoin, and make it more accessible for people," Demeter told CBC News.
Bitcoins are mathematically generated through a series of commands executed by computers in a peer-to-peer network. The process is called Bitcoin "mining" and is set up so that the total number of Bitcoins that can ever be generated is limited to about 21 million.
While some have doubted Bitcoin's validity and others have raised concerns that the unregulated currency is being used for nefarious means, a U.S. judge ruled last month that Bitcoin, which has been around since 2009, is a real currency.
Also on HuffPost:
At All Things Digital's D11 conference in May, Motorola's Regina Dugan introduced several possible password alternatives -- one wearable. Dugan displayed <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/03/passwords-tattoos-pills-motorola_n_3378767.html" target="_blank">a temporary tattoo</a> containing "antennas and sensors" that would transmit a unique signal that could then be picked up as part of a passcode on a digital device. Like any temporary tattoo, it could be peeled off at any time and would last only up to a week.
Dugan also introduced "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/03/passwords-tattoos-pills-motorola_n_3378767.html" target="_blank">password pills</a>," small vitamin-like pills that users could eat at breakfast. The pills' contents -- activated by stomach acid -- would send out an "18-bit, ECG-like signal," similar to the kind used in an echocardiogram. The signal would work as secure authentication on digital devices, and <a href="http://www.policymic.com/articles/45905/motorola-introduces-password-pill-that-is-terrifyingly-orwellian" target="_blank">last about 24 hours </a> -- until the pill was passed out of the body.
Technologist Amal Graafstra has been <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/08/13/want-an-rfid-chip-implanted-into-your-hand-heres-what-the-diy-surgery-looks-like-video/" target="_blank">injecting radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips into people's bodies</a> since summer of last year. When hit by a radio signal, the chip emits a signal of its own: Forbes describes it as "a unique identifier number that functions like a long, unguessable password." Hackers like Graafstra have programmed smartphones, computers and even car locks to recognize the signal given off by their implanted chips.
The technology now used in <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/09/microsofts-picture-password-a-breath-of-fresh-air-on-the-lockscreen-of-all-places/" target="_blank">Microsoft</a> and <a href="http://www.snaphow.com/6126/best-android-lockscreen-with-gesture-password-on-pictures" target="_blank">Android's</a> picture passwords may be our best hope for replacing alphanumeric codes: after all, unlike tattoos, chips and pills, they're already on the market. But experts question the security of such gesture-based authentication; though taps and swipes may be <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/gesture-password-2012-1" target="_blank">harder to guess</a> than strings of numbers and letters, telltale <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5474130/swipe-gesture-passwords-maybe-arent-such-a-good-idea" target="_blank">smudges</a> and even <a href="http://www.geekwire.com/2011/picture-password-windows-8-security-toy/" target="_blank">covert video recordings</a> could allow hackers to break in.
Companies including Diebold and Finnish startup Uniqul have started experimenting with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/19/facial-recognition-credit-card_n_3624752.html" target="_blank">facial recognition as authentication</a>. The good news? You're unlikely to forget your face. The bad news? <a href="http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/can-biometrics-secure-our-digital-lives/" target="_blank">Currently</a> many facial recognition systems can be fooled by photographs.
Every person's heartbeat is unique -- so unique that no pattern of beats ever repeats twice. <a href="http://www.dvice.com/archives/2012/02/soon-your-heart.php" target="_blank">This may make heartbeats perfect passwords</a>; Taiwanese scientists have recently devised a heartbeat-utilizing encryption scheme based on the mathematics of chaos theory. <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328516.500-your-heartbeat-could-keep-your-data-safe.html" target="_blank">Currently the Taiwanese system is still a prototype</a>, but researcher Chun-Liang Lin hopes to eventually "build the system into external hard drives and other devices that can be decrypted and encrypted simply by touching them."
Like heartbeats, eye movements are unique, hard to forge, and possibly excellent passwords. <a href="http://www.livescience.com/23940-eye-movements-could-be-next-pc-password.html" target="_blank">Researchers at Texas State University - San Marco</a> are currently studying ways to turn eye movement into authentication.