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Bitcoin Almost Becomes Physical
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
January 21, 2014

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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Could the cybermoney Bitcoin become hard cash or will it continue to be an electronic form of value?

This question may leave you scratching your head, especially if you live in Canada or in the Republic of Slovakia. Automatic Teller Machines or ATMs through which Bitcoins can be processed have been installed in both of these countries. Germany accepts bitcoins as a form of private money, bitcoins having been recently endorsed by the German Finance Ministry. The bigger question is if more such ATMs could be on the way in other countries as well?

A Bitcoin ATM was installed in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada in October 2013. According to the Dec.2 The Slovak Spectator newspaper in the Republic of Slovakia, a bitcoin ATM is now being planned for downtown Bratislava.

The Bratislava Bitcoin ATM is owned by Marián Jancuška, operator of the website Mojbitcoin.sk (Mybitcoin.sk in English). Jancuška unveiled the machine in mid-November. The machine was temporarily set up in Progressbar at that time. It was to be installed at a more permanent location in December between Laurinská and Gorkého Streets in downtown Bratislava.

Jancuška was quoted by the weekly publication Profit as saying, “The launch of this ATM will make people’s access to the Bitcoin currency easier, which can be a motivation for sellers to begin accepting the Bitcoin as a tender. I believe this can be motivation for instigation of new services; realization of new projects. In any case I expect the Bitcoin economy to develop.”

And develop it has! A Subway fast food franchise in Bratislava as well as the online stores LP Platne (sportswear producer Alfatex), Roast Station Project (a coffee merchant), MarSal Tech - 3D tlac (a printing company) and others have been identified on the website Bitcoins.sk as actively accepting bitcoins. Isper Internet websites in Bratislava also accept payments in bitcoins.

Martin Petrus is the manager of the Bratislava Subway store. Petrus told the daily publication Sme, “I do not expect that because of the Bitcoin a gush of people would arrive, but I already see that it has raised interest in the community around the Bitcoin.”

Slovak Association of Electronic Commerce Executive Director Jozef Dvorský views bitcoins differently. Dvorský said, “This is something really new and it is difficult to forecast any future of it. We do not think that it will in any significant way affect Slovakia and [domestic] online shopping in the near future.”

Customers can pay with a Bitcoin at the Subway store using a smart phone, according to Petrus.

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Lamassu is the company that manufactured the Bitcoin ATM for Jan?uška. The machine serves as a Bitcoin wallet. In Bratislava bitcoins can be exchanged for euro bank notes through the machine, the rate being set by the Mt.gox exchange. The ATM is a one-way machine in which bank notes can be deposited with their value in bitcoins being loaded into the client’s Bitcoin wallet.

According to the Dec. 2 The Slovak Spectator article, “It is not possible to withdraw physical bitcoins, which do not actually exist.”

There may be at least one ATM in Slovakia, but the government is taking a jaundice view of it. National Bank of Slovakia spokesperson Petra Pauerová was quoted in the Nov. 26 The Slovak Spectator as saying, “The National Bank of Slovakia warns the general public that virtual currencies, for example the so-called Bitcoin, are not national currencies and thus they do not fall under national regulations.”

Slovak Finance Ministry spokesperson Alexandra Gogová added, “Participation in this scheme is at the risk [of the investor] and the money of investors is not protected.”

Bitcoins use cryptography to control its creation and transactions rather than using a central bank. This crypto-currency concept was first suggested in 1998 by Wei Dai. Satoshi Nakamoto published the first Bitcoin specifications and proof of concept in a cryptography mailing list in 2009.

Critics of the continued use of gold and silver as metals with commodity value that can be used as specie money may call this use of gold and silver as being barbaric, but compared to the volatility of Bitcoin money in cyberspace gold and silver appear to make a lot more sense.

One thing is certain; bitcoins will only be showing up in virtual coin collections in the near future.



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