Bitcoins may be a virtual currency but this isn’t stopping it from having a very physical presence all across Canada. Bitcoin ATMs are popping up in cities all over this country and from what we learned from the Bitcoin Expo 2014 this weekend, we can expect to see a lot more of these crypto-kiosks in the next few months.
Vancouver was the first city in Canada to have a Bitcoin ATM, which has been situated inside of Waves Coffee since it was installed in October of last year. This was followed by ATMs in Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Montreal earlier this year.
There were at least four Bitcoin ATMs on display at the Bitcoin Expo, most of them from a Waterloo-based company called BitSent. The startup has arranged a deal with Lamassu, an Icelandic company, to be an operator for its Bitcoin ATMs here in Canada, and has plans to set up ten new Bitcoin ATMs across Canada in the next month. The first of these will be installed inside a location at Dundas and Hurontario in Mississauga in two to three weeks.
BitSent’s ATMs work similar to others in the market by allowing people to deposit money into existing Bitcoin wallets. The machine asks users to scan the QR code associated with their virtual wallet, providing the most recent rate, and then takes Canadian cash before depositing the Bitcoin equivalent. The team at BitSent confirmed that they expect to charge a competitive 7% transaction fee for using the machine.
As BitSent has access to Lamassu’s APIs, they intend to make modifications to the machine’s software to better serve the needs of Canadians including language support for Mandarin and French. In addition, they will be adding partner links to popular exchanges, and in the future, hope to have the ability to do things like pay bills with Bitcoins right from the machine.
If BitSent is successful in its roll-out plan, the company may well be the largest single operator of Bitcoin ATMs in Canada. The current Bitcoin ATM landscape is quite fragmented with most operators localized to the area you would find the machine. Vancouver’s Bitcoiniacs, Winnipeg’s BitTeller and Toronto’s Bitcoin Decentral are just to name a few.
BitSent’s ATMs are just a part of what this company has to offer. Founded in November, BitSent provides anything from training and education to purchasing and selling Bitcoin through its mobile service agents. CEO Leo Dominguez told BetaKit that the company was funded from Bitcoins he started to mine two and a half years ago. And feels strongly that Canada has the right mix of regulatory framework and innovation to make it a leader in the cryptocurrency space.