Earlier this year we discussed the emerging urban trend of the peer-to-peer economy and it got us thinking for more flexible alternatives of money. That’s when we spotted another upcoming trend, that of the DIY currencies.
It seems that what we considered back then to be an experimental digital currency is already getting closer to becoming as functional as traditional currencies. Bitcoin was proven to be a valuable measure towards the establishment of the peer-to-peer economy.
It was only at the end of February 2013, that two entrepreneurs announced and presented the first Bitcoin ATM; a machine that functions the other way around compared to common ATMs. The user is able to obtain Bitcoins by making the transaction through those ATMs and by paying with regular money (flat currency).[caption id="attachment_27517" align="alignnone" width="640"] Bitcoin ATM developed by Lamassu Bitcoin Ventures[/caption]
Only half a month later (during March 2013) it was all over the news that Cyprus’ banking system was under turmoil and that Cypriots were about to face major cash constraints. That’s when Jeff Berwick, founder of StockHouse.com and CEO of TDV Media, announced his intention to support Bitcoin ATM and launch the first machine in Cyprus. Since then, the price of Bitcoin has increased sharply, overcoming in the beginning of April the rate of 102 dollars (consider that its price in the beginning of the year was 13.16 dollars). Now, Jeff Berwick seems to be considering to establish an ATM in Los Angeles as well.[caption id="attachment_27518" align="alignnone" width="640"] Prototype of Jeff Berwick’s Bitcoin ATM[/caption]
Regardless of what economic and political analysts might say for the efficiency, the legal status and the financial risk of this alternative currency, it definitely has a huge interest from an urbanism perspective. In the Netherlands, people have already replaced common money with debit cards and in many places it is not even possible to pay with cash. What would the establishment of digital currencies and the relevant ATMs mean for our daily life and the way we perceive transactions?