Saturday 25 October 2014

Ireland's first Bitcoin machine to go live within 'the next few days'

Published 04/03/2014 | 13:05

The machine (pictured), made by Bitcoin ATM manufacturer Bitvendo and placed in Hippety’s Café in Temple Bar, will accept cash for virtual currency top-ups as interest in Bitcoin continues to grow. (Photo: Bitvendo)

Ireland’s first Bitcoin ATM is to go live within “the next few days”, according to staff of a Temple Bar café.

The machine, made by Bitcoin ATM manufacturer Bitvendo and placed in Hippety’s Café in Temple Bar, will accept cash for virtual currency top-ups as interest in Bitcoin continues to grow.

“We’re just smoothing out a few issues and expect the ATM to go live in the next few days,” a staff member at Hippety’s told Independent.ie.

The new machine, which is not expected to dispense cash, will charge between 3-5pc commission on transactions.

Bitcoin is a five-year-old virtual or ‘crypto’ currency that is made up of computer code that can be bought and sold online for hard currencies such as dollars or euros.

Irish businesses that accept Bitcoin as payment include Dublin city mobile phone shop GSM Solutions.

“We started accepting Bitcoin as part of our normal business last May,” said owner Alan Donohoe, whose shop is in Abbey Street. “Now we take it the same way as we would other types of payments.”

GSM Solutions sell phones, accessories and electronics.

A small handful of other Irish businesses now accept Bitcoin as a means of payment for goods and services. They include Wexford CCTV firms (Visiconnex) and even B&B guest houses in Offaly (The Ring Farmhouse, Birr).

Abroad, the situation is more advanced. Giant retailers Overstocked.com and TigerDirect.com accept Bitcoin for the thousands of everyday products they sell, including jewelry, electronics, health products and home furnishings.

Last week, the oldest Bitcoin trading exchange, Mt Gox, collapsed with almost €300m missing from accounts. Despite the incident, Bitcoin prices have continued to rise, with the current trading level approaching $700 (€530).

The rising value of Bitcoins is due partly to some investors turning to the crypto-currency as a safe-haven against volatility in Ukraine and other troublespots and partly to the attraction of Bitcoin as a perceived fraud-free, tax-free way of trading.

However, some of the growth in the virtual currency is also attributed to black market trading in illegal commodities such as drugs and weapons.

Although anonymous, every Bitcoin transaction is recorded in a virtual ledger that is downloaded by every Bitcoin user. Supply of the currency is limited by a pre-determined computer formula, so units cannot be copied or faked. There is also no single individual controller.

What started off as project for web enthusiasts is now becoming a serious business. In Canada, the US and Australia, Bitcoin ATM machines have appeared. Companies such as BitPay and WagePoint allow companies to pay employees in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin can also be ‘mined’ using high-end computer equipment. The virtual currency has no single oversight body and is limited by a pre-determined computer formula, so units cannot be copied or faked. It is popular among technology enthusiasts and unpopular among bankers and economists.

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