Last May, I wrote about the coming wave of bitcoin ATMs. Today, it looks like they have arrived, landing first in Boston’s bustling South Station.
The device, manufactured by New Hampshire’s Lamassu, Inc. and placed by Boston startup Liberty Teller, appears to have narrowly beat out a planned bitcoin ATM launch in New Mexico (though that may be disputed).
Liberty Teller triumphantly tweeted the launch and said it was planning to give away free bitcoins stored in paper wallets to encourage adoption of the digital currency.
Bitcoin is a digital cryptocurrency that, in some ways, is analogous to cash: It can be transferred from one person to another without a third-party, can be bought and sold anonymously, and is tradeable on a variety of currency marketplaces.
It has been closely tied with black markets online, where it is popular as a way to transact business without a credit card or PayPal account, and among libertarians worried about government monetary policy.
It has also been an incredibly volatile currency with the value of a single bitcoin peaking at around $1,200 in December and then crashing down to under $600 more recently — after having been valued at $100 per bitcoin for much of 2013.
Despite the volatility, the currency is somewhat usable on a day-to-day basis: Overstock.com and a number of other online retailers now accept it, as do a few local restaurants, to occasionally mixed results. Those preferring to dine in can even get their bitcoin-bought meal delivered via Foodler.