Bitcoin ATM installed downtown

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SAN DIEGO -- Compared to an average ATM, the new Bitcoin machine installed in downtown San Diego  is pretty small. And while it doesn't issue money, it will take your cash.

The people behind the machines say the devices convert cash into Bitcoins, a digital currency that requires no paper money and no banks. The electronic money can be used to make purchases on-line and at places such as Downtown Johnny Brown's that accept Bitcoins.

"You have the power to send money anywhere in the world to any person connected to the internet nearly instantly with virtually no fees and without third party interference," said Steven Michaels, C.E.O of Bitcoin Merchants.com, the company installing the machines.

Bitcoins have been around for five years and have been controversial since being designed by a Japanese businessman.

Concerns are many because this currency is not regulated.

People are assigned account numbers, which become virtual wallets. Since everything is electronic, people can tap into these accounts and steal the "money." And once the Bitcoins are spent, there's no way of getting them back.

Governments also worry Bitcoins can be used for illegal purposes.

4 comments

  • Jim McMillan

    Cash can be used for illegal purposes, and is less traceable than bitcoin. One advantage to bitcoin over cash is that it is not easy to rob a person holding bitcoin while cash is easily pried from your fingers. Another advantage to bitcoin is that crossing the border without reporting cash can result in forfeiture, while no one knows how much bitcoin you control. For remittances, bitcoin is more private and incurs very little transaction costs.

    • Kate

      I was going to say cash is used for illegal purposes. How many raids have they done in the US for drug cartels and found US cash? Not to mention armories filled with US currency in Iraq? This is just fear mongering for the idiots who don’t realize how much US currency is used in illegal activities as well.

  • Jim McMillan

    There are bitcoin traders at the bitcoin meetups who will both buy and sell bitcoin. I witnessed a transaction once where two guys showed up with $5,000 in cash and left with bitcoin worth that at the time.

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