Ray Bursey, the CEO and president of Ghost Technologies, purchased the machine from a Prague-based manufacturer with the hope of promoting the technology in the local market.
“It’s about seven years since it was first designed and developed, so it’s slowly gaining a foothold,” says Bursey, whose ATM is located inside the Fifth Ticket in downtown St. John’s.
“Global adoption is at an all-time high, pace is getting faster and faster, more and more people and companies are using it than ever before.”
As for why Bursey chose a restaurant as the home for his ATM, he says it makes it more accessible for the average Joe and for cruise ship visitors looking to obtain Canadian funds without having to go through a financial institution.
If you’re not entirely sure what Bitcoin is or how it works, you’re not alone. Since the technology was introduced in 2009, the world of decentralized cryptocurrencies has grown exponentially and become increasingly complex.
In a nutshell, it’s an encrypted digital currency under the control of the users, not banks. The network is decentralized, but every peer-to-peer transaction is viewable on a digital public ledger called the blockchain, which is secured by miners who are rewarded with newly minted Bitcoins, or portions of, for verifying transactions on the network.
“There’s no government that owns it, there’s no government that controls it, it’s not owned by any one person or company. It’s owned by the people that use it,” says Bursey.
Bitcoin’s popularity has taken off in a big way in 2017 and has resulted in a single unit valued at C$5,414.20 as of Thursday, and some in the investment world suggest its value could grow considerably more before year’s end.
“When people see the value of one Bitcoin being $6,000 and think they’ll never afford one, it actually goes down to eight decimal places. I can send you .00000001 of a Bitcoin.”
Bitcoin is bought and sold at exchanges for real money and is stored in a digital wallet accessible through your computer or smartphone. They can be used to purchase products and services, mostly online, or be exchanged for another form of currency.
At Bursey’s ATM, users can buy Bitcoins for an eight per cent charge, or they call sell them at a six per cent fee — fees that he says are standard for most exchanges. That means a deposit of $100 cash will net you the equivalent of $92 in Bitcoin, whereas selling $100 worth will cost you $6.
It also allows for the purchase, but not the sale, of Ethereum and Litecoin, two other types of cryptocurrencies.
In terms of its security protocols, transactions over $2,900 require you to submit a cellphone number to verify identity, have a photo taken by the machine and a scan of your driver’s licence. Transactions under $2,900 only require your wallet address.
But the technology is not without its critics.
Because of the lack of government or bank oversight that makes it hard to track, it’s said to be commonly used by drug dealers, hackers and even terrorist organizations.
Bursey says that’s not true.
“It’s actually 100 per cent traceable. Governments, the FBI, the IRS, the CRA, they can track everything. Your wallet address is tied to you and that’s it.”
He also says it’s more secure than having all your money in a bank.
“The only way anyone could ever hack the network, they’d have to control 51 per cent of all the networking power in the world.”
It’s a technology that has experienced varying degrees of volatility since its inception, but more and more countries are getting on board, including Switzerland, India, Australia and Japan, where it’s recognized as legal tender as opposed to a money business service.
Bursey says all signs point to Bitcoin sticking around.
“The value might drop, it might grow ten times more, the crystal ball is pretty foggy on that one, but it is here to stay.
“You’ve got companies like Microsoft and Overstock.com that already accept it as payment and they’re not going to take just anything.”