Winnipeg’s first Bitcoin ATM now accepting cash
Published Saturday, February 15, 2014 6:24PM CST
Last Updated Saturday, February 15, 2014 6:30PM CST
Digital currency reached a milestone in Winnipeg on Saturday with the installation of the city's first Bitcoin ATM. The popularity of the virtual currency continues to grow in Canada and around the world, but with the value of the currency fluctuating wildly, investing in Bitcoins is no sure bet.
"I believe it gives the power back from the big banks back to the actual people," said Bitcoin enthusiast John Thorestubsneisen.
The co-founder of BitAccess, the company behind the machine, thinks it will draw new clientele to Santa Lucia Pizza, where it's located.
"You will not find a Bitcoin machine for a thousand kilometres around Winnipeg, so this will make them very unique, for the moment," Vignesh Sundaresan, cofounder of BitAccess.
That prediction proved accurate on Saturday, as Bitcoin enthusiasts lined up to convert their cash.
"This machine here is set up to an exchange and updates every five seconds so you'll get a very accurate, very close price for what you want," said bitseller Shawn Stone.
The rapid price updates could prove necessary. Last week alone, the value of one Bitcoin plummeted from $800 to just $500. By Saturday, it bounced back to $766.
Still, people who trade in the currency believe in it and say they're finding more and more places to spend it.
"I'm looking forward to actually buying my first vacation with Bitcoin. I might go to Cypress," saidThorestubsneisen
In addition to being home to Winnipeg's first Bitcoin ATM, Santa Lucia Pizza now joins a growing list of retailers that are also accepting the digital currency for payment.
"I figured while we're at it, we might as well jump in all the way,” said general manager Greg Simeonidis.“We'll see what happens."
Simeonidiscompares Bitcoin to when debit machines first became popular and says the restaurant always wants to be on the cutting edge of technology.
"I got really excited,” he said. “I thought, ‘You know what? That's a pretty interesting currency, a pretty neat invention.’"
Winnipeg has Canada's fifth Bitcoin ATM. Vancouver was home to the world's first machine. Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto also have them.
- With a report by Ben Miljure