MOSCOW, August 26 (RIA Novosti) - Bitcoin ATMs, also called BTMs or Bitcoin Teller Machines, which turn cash into the virtual currency, are starting to appear across the globe, with new machines operating in the United States, Australia, South Africa and the Isle of Man, Cointelegraph reports.
BTMs are very similar to regular cash withdrawal machines, but they only allow customers to deposit money in exchange for bitcoins and do not offer cash withdrawals. They offer an alternative way of converting cash into bitcoins for people who do not have a traditional bank account or simply want to avoid online currency exchanges.
The world’s first BTM opened in Vancouver, Canada, in October 2013.
Manhattan’s first BTM was started operating in the West Village on Thursday. It was installed at Flat 128, a luxury store that sells jewelry and household goods. Earlier this month, a BTM was installed in an old phone booth in Brooklyn.
Australia’s capital Canberra now boasts an ATM that accepts exchanges in three different digital currencies: Bitcoin, Dogecoin and Litecoin, apart from a number of Bitcoin-only machines.
BTMs have also been installed in the capitals of South Africa and the Isle of Man.
According to the Bitcoin ATM map, an online service that keeps track of BTMs, there are currently 204 machines operating globally. More than 20 different companies produce BTMs, Lamassu being the leading manufacturer, having sold 77 units, according to the service.
The BTMs installed in Brooklyn and South African capital Johannesburg are both made by Lamassu. On Monday, a Lamassu BTM was installed in Budapest.
According to Zach Harvey, founder of Lamassu, the company is working on new software for its BTMs that would make cash withdrawals possible.
“Lamassu plans to release software that will let the machines exchange cyber currency for cash,” Harvey was quoted as saying by Cointelegraph.
Bitcoin is a digital currency that can be used to purchase goods and services from stores and online retailers. It was designed as an alternative to traditional payment systems and is not backed by a government or central bank to regulate or issue it. If a virtual currency fails, the government does not cover the losses.
Government agencies continue to make efforts to regulate digital currencies, arguing that they expose users to a number of risks, including the threat of hacking and scams, unclear costs and volatile exchange rates.
In 2013, the exchange rate of bitcoins to dollars dropped by 61 percent in just one day. In 2014 the value of bitcoins dropped by as much as 80 percent in a single day.
The current value of 1 bitcoin stands at around $505, according to CoinDesk.