Toronto Gets Bitcoined


Toronto’s first Bitcoin ATM has arrived.

Made in Canada by a company from Ottawa, the new Bitcoin ATM, or a “BTM” as locals refer to it, is now located in a corner of a new 5,500 sq. feet Bitcoin Decentral co-working space in downtown Toronto at Spadina and King. Considering the fact that even New York City still doesn’t have a Bitcoin ATM, Toronto is truly ahead of the game.

Bitcoin, hailed as a new breakthrough digital currency technology by its fans, is on the rise in popularity in Toronto. A number of organizations are driving awareness and adoption of Bitcoin, like Bitcoin Alliance of CanadaBitCoinada; Toronto’s own Bitcoin news; a growing Bitcoin meetupCoin Talk, a locally produced YouTube show and podcast about Bitcoin; and CoinKite, a local startup developing Bitcoin merchant terminals and mobile wallets.

Judging by the popularity of the recent Bitcoin ATM unveiling that I attended, and the level of excitement and buzz it’s generating, Toronto’s crypto-currency community is just getting started.

So, what is Bitcoin?

“Bitcoin is unlike anything that came before it. It is the most popular digital crypto-currency today with some properties similar to stocks and bonds, gold and Canadian dollar. The unit fluctuates in price and can zip around from one person to another – like cash teleported,” said Michael Perklin, director of Bitcoin Alliance of Canada. “It can be given to someone immediately and can’t be reversed. But the true value of Bitcoin is in the extremely resilient distributed network, where payments get processed and verified. Unlike a wire transfer, there’s no bank and nobody like PayPal or Visa in the middle to charge you a big fee.

There are Bitcoin addresses and you can put as many bitcoins into it as you want, he told BetaKit. “That address is just like a account number, and if you come across physical coins, they’re nothing more than a collectibles that contain a piece of paper with the account number.”

Is Bitcoin safe?

The software that the Bitcoin network runs on is a community-driven, free, open-source project. Apparently the safest way to store Bitcoins, this exciting new digital crypto-currency is actually to write account numbers on a piece of paper and put it in a physical wallet – this way of storing Bitcoins is referred to as cold storage. Why? Because “no computer can steal a piece of paper,” said Perlkin. “If you create a Bitcoin account, no hacker can take it from you unless they meet you in person, while computer viruses can steal your money. You must take proper precautions to prevent malware from getting on to your machine. It’s a digital equivalent of personal safety, just like you wouldn’t flash your money while walking on the street.”

“In Cryptography We Trust” — Canada’s First Bitcoin Expo 2014

As if Bitcoin hasn’t generated enough buzz in the city, Toronto will host Canada’s first international Bitcoin Expo 2014 conference on April 11th-13th at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, organized by Bitcoin Alliance of Canada and other organizations and startups from the local crypto-currency community. Judging by the attendees at the unveiling of the Bitcoin ATM, it’ll draw a diverse audience of artists, forensic investigators, local businesses, marketers, nonprofits and others curious about the promise of decentralized digital currency, or network.

Does the new Bitcoin ATM accept Dogecoin or Coinye West?

No, it doesn’t, and it won’t in the foreseeable future. We will keep you informed on the bitcoination of the city. So crypto, very currency.


Elena Yunusov

Elena Yunusov works at the intersection of digital communications and experience design. She is known in Toronto’s startup community as a HoHoTO & Toronto Maker Faire co-organizer. She likes coffee, robots, and wearable tech.

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