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Bitcoin The Almighty Buck Linux

World's First Bitcoin ATM 437

bill_mcgonigle writes "I just bought bitcoins from the World's first Bitcoin ATM at Liberty Forum. I created an account using an Android Bitcoin client and held up its QR code to the Raspberry Pi-based device's optical scanner. After I fed in a $20 Federal Reserve Note, I got back a confirmation QR code on its display, which I then scanned and checked the third-party confirmation URL. The machine can function on any wireless network and will soon be available for purchase by merchants, who can make a commission on customers' Bitcoin purchases."
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World's First Bitcoin ATM

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  • Re:How does it feel? (Score:5, Informative)

    by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @09:26PM (#42999075)

    You put primarily in the wrong place.

    The currency primarily used by terrorists, druggies, and child pornographers is the US Dollar.

    You may have intended to say the currency used primarily by those groups.

  • Re:Ironic (Score:4, Informative)

    by blue trane ( 110704 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @10:01PM (#42999305) Homepage Journal

    Why can't you spend more money than you take it? In fact the US has done this since its inception, and predictions about its demise have gone unfulfilled. Grandchildren have continued to be better off than their grandparents, despite the hyperbolic paranoia of deficit hawks screaming that the sky is falling since Alexander Hamilton's doctrine of assumption created the first national debt.

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @10:08PM (#42999337)

    You make it sound like Bitcoin, a small but quickly growing experimental transaction system, has a similar volatility problem to the world's largest fiat currencies. This is clearly not true.

    If you bought bitcoins 2 months ago and sold today you would have made 90-140% (depending on what you traded for, 120% for USD) of the invested capital. The could easily lose or gain 50% against most currencies/commodities over the next month. People holding bitcoins have to accept this serious volatility. Merchants need to change their prices rapidly as value rises or falls (there are tools to help with this of course). Users should not hold more than they can comfortably afford to lose suddenly and completely.

    Right there. That's the reason why it's not prudent to exchange dollars for bitcoins.

  • by Andy Prough ( 2730467 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @10:40PM (#42999553)
    He seemed to spell most everything else correctly.
  • Re:uber-geek issues (Score:4, Informative)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @11:36PM (#42999831) Homepage

    It can be trivially optimized down to only one step:

    3) insert money

    Other steps are just to distract your attention.

  • Re:Ironic (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Monday February 25, 2013 @12:12AM (#43000005) Journal

    Well he's wrong. Since it's not just energy we depend on and it's not just energy we _want_.

    every product is as valuable as the energy used to craft it

    Tell that to stamp collectors. Tell that to art collectors. Tell that to the buyers of luxury goods.

    There are lots of scarcities in this world that are not determined by energy unless you really stretch things to the point that they are useless in predicting or understanding stuff.

    As for the US currency, it's not actually holding value - it is actually depreciating because of inflation. But that's not necessarily a problem for the USA (see below).

    Why some economists recommendation of "printing money" to solve financial problems works at least for the USA is because the US dollar is used by the majority of countries in the world to buy and sell petroleum, wheat, CPUs, edible oils, milk, manufacturing equipment, toys, etc from each other.

    Because of that when the USA prints money, the USA is actually transferring wealth from the rest of the world that holds positive amounts of US dollars (whether as assets, cash, goods or loans to others).

    Basically when the USA prints money it taxes the rest of the world. If the US Gov gives enough of the printed money to the US citizens the US citizens will benefit overall. And hence the US financial problems are solved at the expense of the rest of the world.

    In contrast if you are Zimbabwe you can do as much Quantitative Easing as you want and the rest of the world will just laugh at you. BUT IF the Zimbabwe government printed money and invested it into projects that benefit Zimbabwe with good ROI then yes printing money would have helped Zimbabwe. It would just be like another tax on the Zimbabwe residents but used productively. The big problem is getting good ROI or at least better ROI than not taxing the residents. And that's not always easy.

    So it should now be obvious that it is much easier to make your country wealthier if you can tax the whole world rather than just the residents of your country. Then you don't even need projects with good ROI. Just take wealth from the rest of the world and hand it to yourself and your people.

    And that should help explain why printing money works in some cases and not others.

    I see lots of clueless US people (not just economists ;) ) talking about going to the gold standard, the USA not being able to pay back debts, stupid stuff like China owns the USA, etc.

    The USA owes most of its debts in US dollars. Not gold. It can create as much US dollars as it needs! The Federal Reserve loaned out trillions from
    "thin air" in 2008+. But note that strangely some of the trillions went into bailing out foreign banks! The US people should realize that it only works for them if enough of the printed money goes to them...

    You should now see why going to the gold standard or the other alternatives would hurt the USA a lot.

  • Re:Unreal (Score:5, Informative)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday February 25, 2013 @12:37AM (#43000135) Homepage Journal

    There's nothing separating a bitcoin, a US dollar or a napkin that says $10000 1337 D0ll@rz on it. They all have next to no intrinsic value, although they all could be used as an exchange mechanism.

    One being a legal tender[*] is a significant difference.
    You can pay your rent and taxes in bitcoins no more than you can pay it in promises against next year's harvest.
    You may be able to sell your bitcoins or next year's harvest, so you can get real money to pay your bills with, but that part is all on you.

    [*] "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts."
    -- 31 U.S.C., paragraph 5103

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday February 25, 2013 @12:51AM (#43000197)

    "Can it refund your cash if there is any fault?"

    Yes, or rather the bank can (and must under the law). I've had an ATM eat a check. You just call the bank and have them deal with it.

    "Can it run out of bit coins to pay out? and you end up losing cash?"

    If an ATM runs out of cash, it refuses to process your transaction. No money is debited from your account. Likewise if its in hopper is full it will refuse to accept your deposit.

    "How fast can it update the exchange rate?"

    Instantly. The ATM itself doesn't store any of that, the bank does. It just communicates with the bank. So it is always current to the rate the bank offers you. Also, this is not an issue with normal ATM operations since you access the same currency your account is denominated in. This only applies internationally, and then the rates shift slowly. BTC shift multiple dollars in a day.

    "What happens with a network lost midway though an transfer?"

    The transaction doesn't happen. The ATM only does things if the bank says it is ok. So if it loses connectivity before it is complete, the transaction is stopped. You either don't get your money in the case of a withdrawal, or it hands you back your deposit in that case.

    "Can it store and transfer at a later time?"

    No, ATMs are dumb terminals, after a fashion. While they run all their interface locally, they don't have any account data. They just contact the bank and say "This account number wants to do this, is this ok?" The bank then says yes or no, the transaction happens, everything is updated on the bank's computers.

    "What about an power loss?"

    Same deal as anything else, you call the bank. They'll have to come and get your card out, also if you had a deposit in the hopper but not processed they'll have to get that out too.

    "Hacking? and will be even be crime to hack it? and what will happen in a court if some one sues or they try to change some with breaking a law dealing with any to do with this?"

    It is a crime to hack an ATM though it is nearly impossible, since again they are dumb terminals. The crypto between them and the bank is top notch (IBM makes these real cool crypto cards for them). In the event the ATM is attacked and the money stolen, it is an issue for the bank, not you. The risk to the end user is skimming, someone capturing your account information and then using it, same basic deal as credit card fraud and the like.

    That the same questions apply doesn't mean the same answers do. Really, there has been a lot of time to think about and work on answers with ATMs. The big reason they work well is that they are just terminals for the bank. They don't store anything, other than the physical cash they dispense. They just transact back to the bank. Also, there's rather a lot of tracking that goes on with regards to bank transactions at many levels. If something happens, there's logging, there's a record, it can almost always be undone.

  • by brokenin2 ( 103006 ) * on Monday February 25, 2013 @02:04AM (#43000527) Homepage

    I guess. He made a few buck along the way didn't he?

    I spent my $19.50 after I saw an article on /. about bitcoin. I remember thinking, wow, that's an insane (but good) idea. I was fully expecting that it would get hacked the next week and disappear. It never even crossed my mind that it would survive to become anything substantial. More than a year later when I realized I had a substantial sum of the things, it took me about a week of double-taking and reading to realize that they were really for real, and that they were really very similar to any other currency, except that they're more secure and better managed than any other example that I could find).

    As it turns out Satoshi had created a very well designed system that has yet to be hacked in any substantial way. Having looked over the design a few times, I really doubt that it ever will be.

    Of course, sites related to bitcoin have been hacked, but that has nothing to do with Satoshi's design. They were designed to work like cash, and they do.. Including the part where someone can just steal them if you let them. One time, a long time ago there was a bug in the Satoshi client that accidentally created some extra coins (and the other Satoshi clients didn't reject them) so temporarily there were more coins that the protocol should have allowed, but the bug was quickly fixed, and the clients retroactively recognized the invalid transaction and removed it, so ultimately it was a failure as a security bug (it should be noted that noone tried to hack extra coins though, it was the product of an accident if I recall).

  • by brokenin2 ( 103006 ) * on Monday February 25, 2013 @02:52AM (#43000721) Homepage

    It's true it's a zero sum game. The same goes for currencies died of an inflationary spiral. A zero sum game is actually what money is for. Making sure you're on the winners side is nice if you're going to play with money. So far it's working for me.

    I was certainly lucky, but you explain to me why my luck is going to change? Your premiss only works if one day everyone dumps them all. I'll certainly keep an eye on it, but tell me why everyone's going to dump them tomorrow, or some other day, when the system has anywhere from 1/10th to 1/1000th the wasted money of our current system? You're not a fool for paying an extra 2-3% for everything? In total, the losers don't necessarily end up being people holding bitcoins. As they become more accepted, the losers may end up being all the other people holding other currencies. I assume that means you. The bitcoin adopters will lose if bitcoin stops gaining in popularity, and does an about face and starts decreasing in popularity (the speculator roller coaster also matters, but is a short term thing). Right now, that doesn't seem to be happening (trust me, I watch). There is a strong motivation for merchants to use them. There are no charge backs, no fraud, no PII to get your ass kicked by California with, and almost no fees (none if you don't mind things being very slow). Bitpay noted that in their first 10,000 transactions online, they didn't have a single case of fraud. The norm for Mastercard and Visa is 1 in every 160 transactions.

    On the Ponzi issue.. Yes, there are similarities. Same goes for penny stocks and to a lesser extent normal stocks, any forex, and really, *ANYTHING* you could invest in. I don't advise people to invest in them. I tell people that they're neat, and a better form of money, but still very volatile. I also tell them that if they do try to use them as a get rich quick scheme, they're likely going to lose all their money when the volatility spooks them and they make a bad trade. If they're going to do anything like investing, they should get a small amount that they'll never miss, and forget about them for years (it's the forget about them part people have trouble with). What's better though, is to get a few, and use them just to learn what it's about.. Go over to bitmit and see how cool it is to buy things online without handing out your life's history.

    OK, do you even listen to yourself? "those BTC that people have will be effectively worthless as there's no upside to buying them, assuming you even can buy them." If you can't buy them, then they're the price hasn't dropped all that much after all. There are lots of the things.. You'll always be able to find someone to sell you 0.00000001 BTC... especially if you're right. For a deflationary spiral to work, the price has to CRASH because nobody wants them, because you can't do anything with them because everyone wants them too much to part with them. Unsurprisingly there aren't many great historical examples. Eventually, people have necessities that they'll need to acquire, and they'll even part with things that might be worth more later.

    There are a number organizations that have been very careful to ensure that they're compliant with the KYC requirements, and registered for official approval from FINCEN.. The US government hasn't officially stated anything one way or the other, but having FINCEN involved and participating is a (weak) endorsement of sorts. Under current laws, it's most likely legal, but tomorrows laws may take aim specifically at Bitcoin and similar things. It's still pretty unlikely that they'd be able to do anything about it, but that sure might hurt adoption (in the US anyway), and thus the price.

    Some governments have clearly stated that Bitcoin is perfectly legal, although they don't formally recognize it as a currency, more like a commodity.

    If you bothered to read up at all, and I mean at all, you'd know all this already.

  • by brokenin2 ( 103006 ) * on Monday February 25, 2013 @02:59AM (#43000749) Homepage

    You can buy drugs relatively safely on the internet. It's a pretty popular use.

  • by Visserau ( 2433592 ) on Monday February 25, 2013 @06:41AM (#43001355)

    Can people please stop saying this? It's getting old. No transfer of money or assets takes place between new and old investors. The early coins are simply easier to get. In fact, you could argue that the early investors are hurt by more people jumping on board. The low hanging fruit is gone, and a larger pool means the time required per coin grows faster with more people activly mining them. Of course, they realisitically benefit more in the long run by having a large active community around the currency. (I'm not denying that early investors had it much better, but that does NOT equal ponzi scheme.)

    Also, it is designed to work down to any number of decimal places. The hard cap on the number of BTC that can exist is designed to prevent endless money printing, which is far more likely to cause deflation. Once the coin cap is reached, the value of one BTC in "real" currency GROWS, but the consumer uses less of their coin to purchase the same goods. E.g. evnetually with sufficent growth in user base it may cost 10 bit-cents for a big mac rather than $1, then that falls to 1 cent, then .1 then .01 and so on. (Obviously it doesn't have to go in factors of 10.) This is hardly deflation - but yes it's also good for the early adoptors.

    I'm far from a BTC expert and have nothing to do with them. I have no idea whether or not the stated goals will work out, but willful ignorance repeated over and over is annoying. Hopefully calling it out will do more good than blowing a mod point.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin