There's something to be said for an employee who, on his or her first day, can walk into the building and do $10,000 worth of business. That's a pretty good first day by most any standard, and that's just the kind of day that the Bitcoin ATM had when it first made its appearance at the Waves Coffee House in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Bitcoin, for those not familiar, is the sometimes-maligned, sometimes-enthused-over alternate currency that is, essentially, denominated in electronic interchange. It's generated and used on a peer-to-peer basis, and the ultimate target is to have 21 million bitcoin in play worldwide, and then stop creating bitcoin. A sort of fiat currency with a definite ceiling, the bitcoin can be acquired in one of two essential ways: purchase it outright with some kind of money, or get it for free in very small quantities from certain locations.
The Bitcoin ATM—a cooperative effort between Vancouver firm Bitcoiniacs and Las Vegas-based Robocoin—allows users to both buy and sell bitcoins and receive or pay in, accordingly, the local currency of choice. An increasingly large number of businesses accept bitcoins, including online businesses but also extending to physical, brick and mortar businesses like food trucks in Seattle. Some have even noted the investment potential of bitcoins—a Norwegian man named Kristoffer Koch bought about $27 worth of bitcoins back in 2009, and then promptly forgot about said investment until he discovered that his $27 investment—which yielded 5,000 bitcoins—was currently worth around $886,000 thanks to some significant appreciation in the meantime.
Those who thought that the FBI landing on Silk Road—perhaps one of the biggest marketplaces dealing in bitcoins—might have killed the bitcoin in general could be forgiven for so thinking, but as it turns out, that's not the case at all. The bitcoin itself is still going quite strong, and may well still prove a worthwhile investment property on at least some level. Naturally, that's up to each individual to make that distinction, after due diligence and appropriate consideration of risk.
It may well be that some out there are interested in taking out a flyer in bitcoins, especially after hearing about Koch's story. While that kind of gain is probably unlikely now, it's easy to overlook the fact that there's set to be a cap on the total number of bitcoins in circulation at any time. As bitcoins become a more used medium of exchange—particularly with online businesses—bitcoins may well prove to have more value.
More value makes more interest, more interest increases scarcity, scarcity increases return on investment when bought early, or so the conventional wisdom goes. Still, bitcoins likely aren't going away any time soon, so those who want to get in are likely to have more ways to get in than ever before.
Edited by Alisen Downey
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