- Published: Thursday, 20 February 2014 07:46
- Written by Editor
During the evolution of Bitcoin, exchanges have always been ubiquitous in converting fiat currency to Bitcoin and vice versa, together with peer to peer services such as Local Bitcoins. Until recently exchanges have handled transactions of all sizes from pennies to millions of dollars, but the rise of the Bitcoin ATM is set to change all that. Using exchanges has never been exactly idea, most being based in foreign countries, and imposing restrictions on various aspects of the service such as withdrawals.
The Bitcoin ATM is set to change that situation dramatically as more and more are deployed around the world.
For smaller fiat to Bitcoin conversions, who would go through the bother of setting up an account at an exchange, transferring funds, withdrawing funds, through an account which is traceable, while wondering whether if the exchange will go out of business for some reason, taking all your Bitcoin and cash with it? Mr. Gox is a very recent and high profile example of this.
Even peer to peer exchanges are not without issues due to scammers abusing the permanent one-way, non-refundable characteristics of Bitcoin to their own advantage.
Enter then the Bitcoin ATM - coming to a shopping mall near you - that instantly does away with all of these issues in favour of an extremely convenient, simple, hands-on method of converting cash to Bitcoin. Trust and convenience is a truly huge factor in using ATM's for Bitcoin conversion, it is quick, efficient, inexpensive and a machine is not out to scam you.
This is precisely what is needed to bring Bitcoin out of the realm of techies and enthusiasts and in to the mainstream. The general public are totally familiar with ATM machines for withdrawing cash from a bank account in a very simple and convenient way, so the concept of a Bitcoin ATM will not be daunting.
The major difference of course between a regular ATM as opposed to a Bitcoin ATM is that the former simply withdraws cash from a bank account, whereas a Bitcoin ATM converts cash to Bitcoin and therefore acts as a mini-exchange rather than extension of a bank account. Also Bitcoin ATM's involve scanning, QR codes etc, often in conjunction with a smart phone, and therefore represent a learning curve for non-technical people.
One of the major benefits of ATMs being installed in public places such as shopping malls, train stations, large stores etc is the millions of people that will see them around the world each day, therefore bringing huge awareness to Bitcoin in a way that would otherwise not be possible. Few mainstream people would actively look up Bitcoin on Google, but would certainly take notice if walking by an ATM each day, promoting awareness and credibility leading to further investigation and ultimately participation.
In addition, with banks often being extremely hard on people involved with Bitcoins, often closing accounts for no reason at all, it will be much simpler and transparent to simply put cash or a card in to a machine in return for Bitcoin, thereby circumventing bank restrictions and vindictive actions altogether.
So it is clear that in many ways the ATM is a major key to the ongoing evolution and mainstream acceptance of Bitcoin.
But what of the future of Bitcoin Exchanges?
For the immediate future, Bitcoin exchanges will be necessary to handle larger transactions and fill a space until the Bitcoin ATM becomes more universal.
Ultimately the future of the Bitcoin Exchange looks doubtful at best as government regulation, peer to peer exchange services and ATM's, as well as ongoing issues with the banking system all converge to make the Bitcoin exchange a relic of the past.
The inevitable end-game is for Bitcoin to become a global de-facto monetary system with people paid in Bitcoin, saving in Bitcoin and spending Bitcoin, making all methods of exchange redundant.
The Bitcoin ATM for now has an exceptional future and crucial in the mainstream adoption of the crypto-currency.
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