Bitcoin ATM offers alternative currency option

Anytime someone needs some cash, heads turn in search of the nearest Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) in order to withdraw money from a financial institution.

It’s a pretty common amenity, however, there is a new option in Cranbrook for those who dabble in cryptocurrency to access Bitcoin.

While not an ATM in the traditional sense, a BankBit machine, which has been placed inside the Mount Baker Hotel, allows consumers to purchase Bitcoin in Cranbrook.

The machine is one of two in the Kootenays — the other is in Nelson — that is operated by BankBit, a company headed up by Ben Glickman in the West Kootenay.

“What it allows the consumer to do, is you can insert cash — in this case, Canadian or U.S. dollars — into the machine to purchase bitcoin from our company, which is then deposited directly onto your bitcoin wallet,” Glickman said.

Glickman says the advantage of using the machine to purchase bitcoin is that it’s instant, anonymous and secure for those who have bitcoin currency. Otherwise, in order to access bitcoin, consumers would have to sign up with an exchange online, which takes time and security measures in order to link up with a bank account.

The first BankBit machine debuted in Nelson about a year ago, which Glickman opened up because he moved into the B.C. Interior from Vancouver and noticed there wasn’t a bitcoin machine available between Kelowna and Calgary.

“I set up one machine in Nelson just to see how it would go and I’ve been pleasantly surprised, there has been definitely an appetite for it,” he said. “We have consistent sales month over month to the extent thatI’ve purchased three more machines and installed the second one in Cranbrook.

“Of course, I won’t know for a couple of months what the appetite is in Cranbrook; if it’s an anomaly compared to Nelson, but I know with the machines here, from the customers I’ve talked to, it’s not just local people in Nelson, but I have people driving in from Castlegar, Creston and Grand Forks to use the machine here.

“Again, unlike a traditional ATM, it draws from a wider geographical area.”

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