Bitcoin — that real but seems not real — rather puzzling form of digital money now has its own Toronto ATM machine.
The digital cryptocurrency, not regulated by any form of government or bank, is a new phenomenon. Although legal, some events tied to the new type of currency, like October’s FBI shutdown of the Silk Road shutdown — a marketplace for illegal drugs and other illicit goods — harmed the reputation of Bitcoin.
But the money made of data blocks is still alive and well and is being accepted right here in Toronto at some locations.
A Bitcoin ATM already opened in Vancouver in October and now the new ATM also has a home in Toronto, located at King Street West and Spadina Avenue at Bitcoin Decentral.
The machine accepts cash in exchange for a number of Bitcoins.
In the fall, Calgary-based Bitcoin company VirtEx announced a debit card for the currency that works on any ATM. VirtEx, which has offices in Toronto, is Canada's largest Bitcoin exchange.
It worked by accessing accounts on VirtEx, where Bitcoin is converted to Canadian currency on the exchange first and then available through ATMs.
"We are going to get these cards out there fast, in the hands of a lot of people," said Joseph David, the CEO of VirtEx.
The company was marketing its debit cards to its 22,000 customers in Canada. He says the goal is giving people a choice when it comes to paying.
David wants more merchants to accept Bitcoin, and has spoken to several small businesses in Toronto to push the idea.
"Almost 80 per cent of the people I talked to didn't know what it was," he said. "I just tell them my customers use Bitcoin and they want to know where they can spend it."
One of the first local merchants to accept the crytpocurrency is the restaurant Smoke Bourbon BBQ House on Harbord Street.
The restaurant has allowed its customers to pay via the digital currency for a month now using a terminal from CoinKite. The terminal resembles a portable debit machine used in most restaurants.
About eight customers have paid with Bitcoin since the restaurant got the terminal.
Other Toronto businesses have also started dealing in Bitcoin.
Ark Army Surplus, a sports gun vendor, Coworking Space Toronto, an office rental firm, The Morpheus Clinic, a hypnosis clinic and Vapetropolis, a vapourizer seller, all currently accept Bitcoin.