With more BTMs than any other country, Canada loves Bitcoin. But the Harper government is still skeptical.
The push to make Bitcoin mainstream is gaining momentum in Canada, where a little known Bitcoin exchange company just rolled out six new bitcoin teller machines (BTMs, as in ATMs) in Toronto.
According CAVIRTEX, the installation of its six new machines in Canada's largest metropolis, goes a long way in "establishing Canada as the BTM capital of the world."
"(S)ix new BTMs in Toronto and four more to roll out across the country shortly, Canada now has more BTMs than anywhere else on the planet," said the company release.
If you're not aware of what a BTM actually is, think ATM, just with the world's first digital currency. Using a cellphone with a Bitcoin wallet, users can buy up to $3,000 worth of Canadian currency, in Bitcoin, by scanning a QR Code generated by the BTM. After that, its instantly uploads the digital currency directly to smartphones.
They can also make exchanges from digital BTC into cold, hard CAD. And despite how they look, the machines do not dispense the terrible beer Molson Canadian.
The BTMs were produced by Ottawa-based BTM technology company BitAccess that helped unveil a similar machine in Canada's capital back in January.
With plans to install four more machines in Canada (Vancouver, Niagara, Ottawa and Halifax), the company is leading the Canadian BTM market.
CAVIRTEX (pronounced 'see-eh-virtex' according to the company) was part of unveiling the world's first BTM in Vancouver in October last year. Since, judging by a site mapping Bitcoin ATMs globally, BTMs have exploded in number all over the world with Canada a clear leader.
CAVIRTEX unveiling its machine. Image: CAVIRTEX.
Yet all of the optimism surrounding CAVIRTEX installing BTMs across Canada, can be easily tempered with the cool reality of the Harper government's skepticism surrounding the digital currency.
In the 2014 budget released in March, the Harper government linked Bitcoin with tax cheats, terrorism, and gangsters, alluding to "virtual currencies" under the "Strengthening Canada's Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing Regime" section.
In it, the feds said Bitcoin could threaten "Canada's international leadership in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing."
After that, in May, the the Bank of Canada tabled a report reserving major concerns surrounding digital currencies, citing "potential risks to overall financial stability" if Bitcoin continued to become a viable option for means of payment.
Documents obtained by Jim Bronskill of the Canadian Press in July show that skepticism of the digital currency hasn't changed within the federal government. Briefing notes for the now deceased Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, called Bitcoin "an attractive payment method for criminals."
Besides Bitcoin's legal ambiguity in Canada, federal regulators are taxing it as a commodity and not a currency, and Bitcoin enthusiasts are worried about the currency becoming overly regulated by national governments to the point they're producing videos voicing their frustrations.
Ultimately, new BTMs in Canada might go a long way in convincing boomers to use old ATM technology for a new currency, or Harper that the digital currency is not solely the currency of terrorists—it also might just bring unwanted appropriation to the originally disruptive technology.