Bitcoin, the famous digital currency which has sparked much controversy over the years, is now heading to an ATM near you. The world's first Bitcoin ATM operated by Nevada-based Robocoin and Canadian Bitcoiniacs is set to open today in Vancouver, BC.
To comply with Canadian law, anyone wanting to use the ATM will have to verify their identity by allowing palm-print and photographic scans.
The ATM will trade Canadian dollars in exchange for Bitcoins for a maximum of $3,000 per day.
Bitcoins are exchanged on a decentralized peer-to-peer network free of central authority or intermediaries. In contrast, with regular banks, payments happen in real time and for relatively low fees.
Proponents for the digital currency say that it is impossible to counterfeit and because it relies on the laws of cryptography it is more secure than anything else.
However, there is a lot of bad publicity associated with Bitcoins. Cyber-criminals were notorious early adopters of the currency which was used to buy illegal goods on the infamous Silk Road 'market-place'.
Recently, malware authors also offered Bitcoin as a form of payment for CryptoLocker, a type of Ransomware that encrypts your files and demands $300 in exchange for restoring them.
In the end, any form of currency can only enjoy wide adoption if it can be trusted and so far there is still a lot of skepticism:
Traditional banks may not be happy to see their customers use alternate methods for payments and will probably keep a close eye on this whole Bitcoin phenomenon.
The world is changing at a fast pace and traditional brick-and-mortar corporations will have to follow the trends. Whether Bitcoins will succeed on a large scale remains to be seen, but they have already gotten some traction in Europe and now Canada.