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SALT LAKE CITY — If you've used an ATM lately, you may have noticed the option to use cryptocurrency. In addition, there are currently 12 bitcoin ATMs operating in Utah.
Here's a look at what it means and how they work:
What is bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a form of digital currency that doesn't require a distributor like a bank, according to CNN Money. However, because of that, the floor value of bitcoin is zero. It does not pay interest and there is no asset value attached to it except what the market gives it because it doesn't have a central bank supporting it.
There are websites and apps to help people buy, sell and manage their bitcoin, and most people do so by using an exchange website.
In late 2017, bitcoin had a renewed interest when the cryptocurrency quickly became worth more than it had ever been, even reaching up to $20,000 a coin at one point.
BTMs (Bitcoin Teller Machines)
Bitcoin ATMs, or BTMs, are machines that allow you to buy and sell cryptocurrency — essentially money transmitting tools. They look and operate very similar to cash ATMs.
The first step is to enter or scan identification. The user then feeds in cash and generates a QR code, according to CryptoCompare.com. Then the user sends the bitcoins to the presented address.
Similar to an ATM, there are fees to make transactions with BTMs. CryptoCompare.com says the typical fee is 5 percent of your transaction. You can find individual fees for BTMs and their locations on CoinATM Radar.
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Cryptocurrency in Utah
Of the 12 BTMs in Utah, cryptocurrency company CoinCloud operates 11 of them. The Las Vegas-based company operates in 22 states including Utah, according to CoinCloud CEO Chris McAlary.
“We launched our first (BTM) in Sandy at Game Haven in 2015, and it’s always been one of our best locations,” McAlary said. “The market there in Salt Lake City has always been very tech savvy, and I think we get a lot of millennials. People really like bitcoin and want instant access to it.”
McAlary explained how CoinCloud ATMs, specifically, work.
“You walk up, insert cash, and we send Bitcoin instantly to your phone or your mobile wallet,” he said. “You can also send bitcoin from your mobile wallet and go pick up cash at the bitcoin ATM.”
CoinCloud also has a mobile app that is built to work with the ATMs.
“They can store (bitcoin in the app). They can send it there; they can have other people send them Bitcoin there,” McAlary said. “You don’t have to buy bitcoin from the ATM machine — you can just buy it there for free.”
Besides now having BTM locations in Utah, bitcoin has also become very popular with local businesses. Many businesses, including at least 15 in Utah, have started to adopt bitcoin as an accepted currency. Local Overstock.com was among those who went all in on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
“Merchants love (cryptocurrency) because processing fees are near zero and there’s no chance of fraudulent payment or counterfeiting,” according to BTC Utah, a Utah-based pro-bitcoin organization. “It isn’t owned or controlled by any government, company or corporation, and it exists only online.”
BTC Utah says that cryptocurrency is “perfect for small businesses” because processing fees are low and bitcoin doesn’t cost anything to set up. BTC Utah also mentions that because few businesses in Utah accept Bitcoin, the ones that do get all the business of customers wanting to use bitcoin locally.
Have you used bitcoin? Let us know in the comments.