AUSTIN, Tex. (CNN) — The virtual currency Bitcoin may soon be available at a high-tech ATM near you.
Thursday, organizers unveiled one of the first such ATM’s in a Texas bar.
Creators established the online, often controversial currency called Bitcoin in 2009.
Now five years later, people are lining up to buy and trade it in Austin.
Reza Piri bought the ATM for $20,000 from a company in Las Vegas.
Like a traditional ATM, he makes money on transactions.
“This is really taking it to the main street, where people can access it, and get Bitcoins for cash 24/7,” Piri said.
Users let the ATM tape transactions. They claim identities can’t be stolen.
In order to access, you first set up an ATM account to link to your Bitcoin account. That takes a government I.D., your phone, and a vein scan of your hand, not prints.
“It’s not as simple as downloading an app and taking on these digital currencies,” Chris Humphreys said.
Chris Humphreys is CEO and director of the Anfield Group, a cyber security firm based in Austin.
He says it’s a great idea to have a digital currency, but has some security concerns.
He also warns if you have trouble keeping up with passwords, getting involved in Bitcoin may not be for you.
“You have to understand things like private key, encryption, your digital signature, how to manage that,” Humphreys said. “The legal ramifications around it, in some countries they don’t accept it, that’s fine. But here in the United States we are finding a way to put order around the chaos.”
About a year ago, the U.S. Treasury Department issued guidelines for businesses using Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
Users are excited about this technology, and there is a growing acceptance at Austin businesses.
Currently, a single Bitcoin is worth about $636.