January 14, 2014 6:33 pm
Updated: January 14, 2014 6:37 pm

Bitcoin ATM sign of currency’s growing popularity

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Watch the video above: Bitcoin ATM sign of currency’s growing popularity. Mark McAllister reports. 

TORONTO – A Toronto business man is trying to make it easier for the average Canadian consumer to get their hands – at least digitally – on some bitcoin.

Anthony Di Iorio opened up Toronto’s first – and Canada’s second – bitcoin ATM at Bitcoin Decentral near King and Spadina.

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The machine represents a real world location for people to buy bitcoin. Usually, people trade cash for the digital currency through online “exchanges.” But now, using the ATM, people can insert cash and get some bitcoin.

“We’re buying them on demand from exchanges,” Di Iorio said. “So this taps into exchanges online where there are people buying and selling bitcoins and basically takes the lowest price from one of the exchanges and buys them as soon as the person puts the money in.”

WATCH: 16×9: An investigation into Bitcoin’s remarkable rise

Bitcoins are a digital currency first launched in 2009. It was introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto, but it’s currently unknown if that is the person’s name, a pseudonym or name representing a team of developers.

The currency is based on a complex algorithm and there is only a finite amount available. Therefore the more popular bitcoin gets, the harder it is to “mine” and the more valuable it is. As of 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, one bitcoin would cost a Canadian $998.24.

The money isn’t regulated or tracked by any corporation or government. While that may lead to reduced fees as Di Lorio said, the currency has also been connected to nefarious activities worldwide.

Bitcoin is, at least at first sight, a little more complex than regular cash transactions. Despite that, the early adopters and proponents of the digital currency are certain it will catch on with the average person.

“So as people adopt, the same way they adopt Facebook or Linkedin, they will adopt bitcoin,” Rodolfo Novak, CEO of Coinkite said. “It’s just another technology. So the price will go up.”

Read More: As Bitcoin surges, Canadian banks make converting to cash difficult

Coinkite is a bitcoin transaction machine much like the debit or credit card machine people use at stores already. Novak said the concept behind his company is to make bitcoin use as easy as possible.

But it’s steadily growing in popularity for both large and small transactions. Online retail giant Overstock.com is now accepting the currency and on Tuesday a Vancouver resident made headlines when she announced she was selling her car but would only accept bitcoin.

The American National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) reported bitcoin usage increased 75 per cent between July and December 2013.

And on Harbord Street, just east of Clinton Street, it can also get you some wings.

“We figured every payment method that you can offer a customer will only generate more business,” Tony Gallippi, owner of Smoke Bourbon BBQ House said Tuesday.

Read More: How one Toronto agency is using Bitcoin

The BBQ house owner currently has about 30 regular customers who use bitcoin. A month and a half ago, he had eight.

“We just see an increase in people constantly calling and asking if we accept bitcoin,” he said. “We see it as the wave of the future. We see it in the next year or two being in all the major retailers.”

Gallippi explains the currency has some advantages over the regular, country-issued currency. First, it’s decentralized and second, it’s cheaper.

“A debit card can run you anywhere from five cents a transaction, I’ve heard as high as 12 cents a transaction,” he said. “Bitcoin is a stable .9 per cent for any type of transaction you do. And you’re not paying the high service charges that you would with a bank, credit card or even a debit card, which makes it really appealing.”

With files from Mark McAllister 

© 2014 Shaw Media

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