As of October 2017, Newfoundland officially had its very first Bitcoin ATM, located at The Fifth Ticket Restaurant on Water Street. Newfoundland is the last province in Canada to get one of these machines, unsurprising since, because of the population, we’re always a little behind-the-curve in terms of getting new technologies, or even retail chains and restaurants.
While Bitcoin may not be so common in Newfoundland just yet, it’s extremely popular in other parts of the world. In Japan, over 350,000 establishments accept Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as payment, just like regular money. Millions of people use it for online shopping, paying local merchants, and sending/receiving money.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, which, for the sake of keeping this article simple, is digital money. Cryptocurrencies can be sent around the world instantly, securely, with minimal fees.
Bitcoin is certainly not the only cryptocurrency, with many others in existence such as Litecoin, Ethereum, Monero, Vertcoin, and the list goes on. These currencies operate on blockchain technology, which is secure by nature and has no single point of failure. They’re generally stored in a digital “wallet” on your phone or computer, although hardware and paper methods exist which are geared more towards long-term secure storage as opposed to everyday spending.
While they’re technically currencies, with the technologies in their infancy, many people also see cryptocurrencies as investments, with some people even trading for profit, or holding onto their assets with the hope they rise in value. When Bitcoin first came about in 2008, a single Bitcoin was worth pennies, less than pennies even. At the time of writing this article, a single Bitcoin was worth about $13,000 Canadian dollars ($10,000 USD). Imagine being one of the lucky ones who bought 100 Bitcoins for pennies and held onto them. On this same day, an estimated $310 US billion was floating around in cryptocurrency markets.
Cryptocurrency Advantages & Disadvantages
Just like when the Internet first came about, much is unknown about the future of cryptocurrencies. While it seems they are here to stay, questions still remain about why one would opt to use a cryptocurrency vs regular money. Bitcoin also has its skeptics, but much of this simply comes from misinformation. There are large communities of crypto-enthusiasts helping with its adoption, but why would this matter to the average person? Here are some general (but debatable) advantages and disadvantages about crypto.
- Secure: Bitcoin operates on a “push” method, sending only the money needed, unlike a credit card where a merchant “pulls” the money, meaning that anyone with access to the card info could “pull” their own fraudulent charge. It is also not possible for a buyer to initiate a chargeback.
- Immediate payment settlement: There are no banks or third parties between you and the sender or receiver. Merchants receive their payment instantly, and you can send money, with no processing times.
- You own it: There is no third-party holding your money. Imagine a company that does business through PayPal, and one day PayPal decides their account is being misused, subsequently banning the account and freezing the funds. Crypto in your wallet is yours. This does lead to a disadvantage, which we’ll outline below.
- Privacy: The only thing disclosed during a Bitcoin transaction is your Bitcoin address. Unless you provide additional information, you could use this address forever without disclosing your identity. Nothing is sent to any bank or government and your assets cannot be frozen or confiscated.
- Investing: Early adopters have seen large returns, even by simply buying and holding Bitcoin. $100 of Bitcoin purchased 1 year ago would be worth about $1400 today. This likely won’t continue forever, and prices are volatile, but the investment potential of early adoption cannot be ignored.
- Great for travel: No need for costly currency exchanges or messing with banks. Visit a Bitcoin ATM wherever you travel, and withdraw the local currency instantly, or spend your Bitcoin directly at merchants who accept it. If you’re in trouble, a friend or family member anywhere in the world can send you money instantly. Bitcoin works 24/7.
- No payment reversal: Since there’s no single point of payment processing, the only way to get money back or refunded is to ask that person or merchant to send it. If you mistakenly transfer too much money, money to the wrong person, or would like a refund, there is no bank to act on your behalf.
- Not widely accepted: While cryptocurrencies are already extremely popular in some countries, and growing in other areas, we’re still a long ways out from mass adoption and being able to pay with Bitcoin at any store you walk into.
- Risk of loss: While having no third-parties, such as banks, involved with your money can be a good thing, the downside is that you are in control of your security. There’s a good deal to understand in terms of protecting your cryptocurrency. If you use a wallet on your mobile phone, and neglect to backup the wallet, then lose your phone, you have lost your crypto. If you accidentally share your private wallet key, someone can steal your crypto. If you forget a wallet password, you have lost your crypto. There is no bank fraud department to help you. This may be an issue for the general population. There are plenty of practices to keep your crypto safe, but the question is whether or not people will follow them.
- Future is uncertain: Whether it’s increased government regulation, currencies dropping in value, or failing completely, the technology is in its infancy. Things are looking good for the future, but nobody really knows!
Bitcoin & Cryptocurrencies in Newfoundland
Now that we’ve explained a bit about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, let’s take a look at their current state in Newfoundland.
As mentioned earlier, the province’s very first Bitcoin ATM was installed at The Fifth Ticket on Water Street. A Bitcoin ATM allows you to either withdraw (sell) your Bitcoin for fiat (“real” money) or get Bitcoin (buy) using real money. There are also some buy-only machines, where you can purchase, but not sell, Bitcoin. It’s also worth noting that as other cryptocurrencies gain popularity, you’ll see more machines offering trades for more cryptocurrencies than just Bitcoin. The Bitcoin ATM at the Fifth Ticket also offers Litecoin and Ethereum, with BCH and Dash planned for addition in the near future.
While the future of cryptocurrencies remains uncertain, it’s a new and exciting space, attracting attention from investors, entrepreneurs, and regular people. In addition to the Bitcoin ATMs popping up in Newfoundland, there have even been crypto meetups at local bars, where enthusiasts get together to discuss all things cryptocurrency.
Ray Bursey, owner of Ghost Technologies, is the one who installed Newfoundland’s first Bitcoin ATM at The Fifth Ticket. Similar to traditional ATM operators, Bursey’s company receives a fee from transactions made on the ATM, and some of that also goes to the operator of the establishment where the machine is located.
According to Ray, demand for the first machine is already surprisingly high with, on average, several $2000-$3000 purchases per week, with an average of around $500 daily. Users are anywhere from university age to 70!
He’s currently awaiting shipment of additional BATM machines to install across the province in locations easily accessible by everyone. Agreements are still being put in place, but as of right now there are plans for machines at establishments in Stephenville, Lab West, on Kenmount Road, in CBS, in or around MUN, and potentially Gander / Grand Falls-Windsor. Currently, new machines are planned to be buy-only, but will eventually allow for purchase or sale of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The video below shows how to use a Bitcoin ATM similar to the one installed at The Fifth Ticket.
Right now, the machines accept all amounts of Canadian currency and dispense in $5 and $20 amounts. Additional fiat currencies may be considered for addition in 2018 so that, for example, tourists with money from their own country can purchase from the machine. For the time being, they’ll be able to withdraw Canadian currency from their Bitcoin stash, or purchase using Canadian currency.
Newfoundland Bitcoin ATM Map
The most up-to-date info on Bitcoin ATMs in Newfoundland is Coin ATM Radar Newfoundland & Labrador
Newfoundland Businesses Accepting Bitcoin
At the time of writing, we’re not aware of any businesses in Newfoundland directly accepting Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency as a form of payment, although there’s talk of at least one coming soon! If you know of one (or own one) please get in touch and we’ll add it to this article. For now, to spend any Bitcoin, you’d have to withdraw cash from a Bitcoin ATM. Just as it took a little longer than most places for Newfoundland to get its first Bitcoin ATM, we’re hopeful that, in time, more merchants will begin accepting crypto as a form of payment! Since it’s so new, methods are still being developed for businesses to accept it easily and without creating an accounting nightmare.
Other Ways To Obtain Bitcoin
In terms of Bitcoin itself, widespread use of Bitcoin ATMs is relatively new. Other popular ways to obtain Bitcoin (aside from receiving it as a payment) is through online exchanges or brokers like QuadrigaCX, CanadianBitcoins.com, or even LocalBitcoins.com.
While these services generally have slightly lower prices than at an ATM (due to the elimination of the ATM fee), they often require a verification process depending on the payment method you choose. This can involve sending identification, a phone call, and a few days wait. Therefore, you may find that the ATM is better suited to your needs. ATMs are also anonymous (except for possibly any surveillance cameras in the area) so there’s no paper trail with your name or banking info. It’s also convenient to instantly be able to buy or sell Bitcoin locally, whereas before you were limited to online options and in some cases multi-day waits for bank transactions to process.
While it may have taken a while for the first Bitcoin ATM to pop up in NL, there is an interesting connection between Bitcoin and the Labrador part of our province that goes a little farther back.
To get slightly technical, the Bitcoin network is run and secured by a process called “mining”, where computers solve complex mathematical equations and are rewarded with Bitcoin. While it was once more common for hobbyists with a home computer to do this “mining”, it’s much more likely to take place in large data centers these days. The key to profitable mining is inexpensive electricity, since these computers use copious amounts of power. They also generate heat, which can be used to heat the building if needed, otherwise, the data centers have to be cooled – using more electricity.
A surplus of electricity and plenty of natural cool air made Lab West an ideal place for a data center, which led Great North Data to build a data center there last year specifically for mining Bitcoin.
Oddly enough, this same area was once a king of mining, but, the real kind, involving large trucks and heavy machinery.
The only regret we’ve heard from people who put some money into Bitcoin is that they didn’t do it sooner. Disclaimer: do not take our words as financial advice. However, as crypto enthusiasts, we love seeing more people get involved.
There’s lots to learn, but even purchasing a bit of Bitcoin is fairly simple and it’s exciting to be involved with the technology. You may even make some money in the process. The exchange/ATM process can seem a bit tedious for now, but the hope is that as cryptocurrency use becomes more widespread and is accepted by merchants, everything will be a whole lot easier. Also, a common misconception is that you can only purchase entire Bitcoins, but that is not the case. You can buy portions of Bitcoin, up to 8 decimal places in fact.
Because the future is uncertain, be sure to follow the #1 rule: never invest more than you can afford to lose!
Getting started is as simple as getting an app like Blockchain on your smartphone, and visiting a Bitcoin ATM with cash. Just be sure to do proper research and learning before investing any large amounts, to ensure your money is safe!
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