In a continued effort to lend an air of legitimacy to the collective fever dream that is BitCoin, a new Bitcoin ATM has been installed in Toronto.
The machine is the second of its kind in Canada, after a similar ATM appeared in the wild in Vancouver last October. The new Bitcoin automated teller machine is stationed at King West and Spadina in Bitcoin Decentral, an office shared by a handful of disruptive companies looking to innovate around the virtual currency.
Patrons insert cash—cold hard real cash, which is accepted as legal tender at every single vendor throughout Canada—into the machine, and withdraw Bitcoin units to their digital wallet software, which is housed on a tablet or a smart phone. At the time of writing, one full Bitcoin was trading at around $915 CDN. Last April, the Canada Revenue Agency declared that Bitcoin transactions were taxable, even if the coins were traded speculatively. While the novelty of a Bitcoin ATM is sure to hold its allure for the foreseeable future, Toronto is also home to numerous creeks, rock quarries and sewer grates where residents can get rid of unwanted cash.
What can you buy with Bitcoin in Toronto? The list is currently very short, and includes sport guns, hypnosis sessions, vapourizers, and BBQ short ribs. It may be worth mentioning that the very few Toronto vendors who accept Bitcoin as payment also accept cash.
The concept of a flesh-and-blood bank machine that you have to physically seek out in the real world in order to vend virtual currency drives the entire concept of Bitcoin deeper into la-la land. There are numerous methods of purchasing Bitcoin from the comfort of your own underwear, blinds drawn and without prying eyes to leer at your secret experimental currency dealings. But just as station wagons originally bore wood panelling to bring to mind horse-drawn wagons of yore, physical ATMs may serve to reassure skittish consumers with something familiar and tangible, however vestigial.
ATMs dispensing boring old cash first appeared in Canada in the 1970's. Nationwide rollout of the Interac Direct Payment system was completed 20 years ago, in 1994.