WINNIPEG — CoinFest 2014 kicked off Saturday with the debut of Winnipeg’s first Bitcoin ATM, the fourth of its kind in Canada.
Bitcoin is a cyber currency that exists online and isn’t regulated by any government or bank.
Anyone can create an account and use the virtual wallet to make purchases at businesses that accept Bitcoin.
To use the ATM, customers insert their traditional currency and get virtual money in exchange. It is added to their virtual wallet at the current exchange rate, which is adjusted every five seconds.
“It’s different in that you don’t need a bank or a third party involved in the transaction — you control your money, you own it,” said Bitcoin Winnipeg founder Josh Nelrep.
So far there are only four companies in Winnipeg that use Bitcoin, but Nelrep expects that number to grow exponentially this year.
The ATM was shown off at Santa Lucia Pizza on St. Mary’s Road. Other businesses, including Best Sleep Centre, Eddie Creek Airsoft and Winnipeg Technology and Computer Renewal, also use the technology and are eager to accommodate the online currency.
“People have been avidly seeking us before we’ve been canvassing, so the demand is there and that is a great opportunity for Winnipeg,” said Nick Burley, co-owner of the BitTeller ATM.
Burley thinks Bitcoin could revolutionize business in Canada, as does the crowd at CoinFest.
“I think it’s the way of the future,” said Gary Keam, a CoinFest participant.