Bitcoin ATMs Come to the 'Burgh
But what exactly is a bitcoin?
photo by sabrina bodon
Just one bitcoin is equal to nearly $5,600, and you can now cash in at an ATM in Pittsburgh.
Known as a cryptocurrency, bitcoin is kept in a digital wallet on your computer or smartphone. While the U.S. dollar is backed by the U.S. government and has a physical form, there is no physical bitcoin.
So how does a bitcoin ATM work if there is no physical bitcoin? Users can deposit cash directly into their digital wallets or users can withdraw from their digital wallets for everyday currency. Major companies like Paypal, Microsoft and Overstock already accept the digital currency.
Bitcoin ATMs are owned and operated by private businesses who pay rent at the convenience stores like the One Stop Mini Mart on the Boulevard of the Allies in Oakland and the Quick Stop convenience store on Liberty Avenue in Lawrenceville, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There are currently 150 bitcoin ATMs in the U.S.
Created in 2009, bitcoin is not owned or operated by any one government or organization, meaning money can be transferred person to person online without a middleman like a bank.
The bitcoin network shares a public ledger run by a network of computers around the world called a blockchain. Bitcoin wallets are established through software on your personal device and holds an encrypted piece of data called a private key used to sign transactions which keep you safe.
Bitcoins can be acquired through payment for goods or services, purchases at a bitcoin exchange, by trades or through mining. A competitive process, mining validates and processes each encrypted transaction from the blockchain to earn bitcoins as a reward.
Since the value of bitcoin fluctuates due to supply and demand, many users invest in the growing market. Last October, one bitcoin fluctuated between $600-$700, according to CoinDesk.
Will two bitcoin ATMS be enough as the market continues to gain traction? We’ll see.