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The City of Vancouver in Canada has been tagged as Canada’s Tech Capital. Gregor Robertson, Vancouver’s mayor, declared, “Technology is now a critical part of Vancouver’s economy.” Looking at Vancouver’s history and technology timeline, it shows how Vancouver’s economy was transformed by technology through time. A great part of the city’s tech history is the first Bitcoin ATM that was opened in 2013 at a coffee shop in downtown Vancouver. The ATM installed at the Waves Coffee House can convert bitcoins to Canadian dollars and dollars to bitcoins. The machine was launched by Bitcoiniacs, now Cointrader, a bitcoin exchange company based in Vancouver in partnership with Robocoin. The city is now dubbed as a bitcoin hotspot. The Bitcoin ATM is not only first in Vancouver; it is the first Bitcoin ATM in the world.

Bitcoin (BTC, XBT, or ฿), is a currency like European euro, US dollar, British pound and Canadian dollar. A currency directly refers to money or a system of money used in a nation. Like dollars, bitcoin is used as a medium of exchange. It is a growing global virtual monetary unit. In 2009, a paper proposal was published by an anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, introducing bitcoin as an electronic payment system. The objective in creating this system is to allow a currency to be free to circulate and independent from a central control; free from interference and manipulation. It’s a secure payment processing system where money can be digitally transferred instantly with less or no fees at all. It is categorized as a “cryptocurrency” because it uses cryptography to secure its processes.

Payment processing has grown into networks and has also evolved and was innovated overtime. There are many ways now to pay and purchase products and services or send money to families and friends. People can pay or send in cash, credit or debit through money transfers and payment transfers through banks or payment transfer services, in-person or online; through computers and mobile phones. Physical establishments can also take different forms of payment from customers and consumers. While the Bitcoin money system is very similar to the traditional currency; it is also unique in many ways. It is an open-source system and is free to use by the public; created but not owned by anyone.

Currently, there are numerous global public and private organizations dedicated to support and spread bitcoin as a legal financial service. Decentral Vancouver in Canada is a community of members with the advocacy for collaborating ideas, organizing events and sharing of information about bitcoin. The organization actively supports the decentralization of the bitcoin system. There is also the Bitcoin Association which works to make the global citizens gain more knowledge and better understanding of bitcoin and related concerns by providing information, news and updates. The Bitcoin Alliance of Canada, one of the many non-profit organizations, aims to promote awareness about bitcoin to businesses, merchants and consumers. Bitcoin.org is the domain for the first bitcoin website which features basic and simple information about bitcoin; how to acquire bitcoin and how to use it.

The Bitcoin payment system features include: easy payments through mobile phones using QR codes, secured payment transfer, protection from fraud, allows sole-control over money using a private key to avoid money theft and for privacy, instant money transfers which is possible even on holidays, international payments or transfers are sent in minutes, very low transaction fees, and it does not reveal the identity of the owner which avoids identity theft.

This cryptocurrency is for individuals, consumers, businesses and software developers. The bitcoin payment system is for everyone.  The businesses accepting bitcoin in Vancouver has been growing in number. A known local grocery store and café called “The Wilder Snail”, was the first grocery store to accept the currency as payment in Vancouver. There are also many Vancouver restaurants which accept bitcoin. A major online eye wear store based in Vancouver is the first e-commerce retail shop to accept bitcoin. One Day Website is the first website development and hosting company to accept bitcoin. The SFU (Simon Fraser University) is the first major educational institution to install bitcoin ATMs in Vancouver and the world. The university also accepts the virtual currency in their bookstores as payment. In 2014, the Sandman Hotel Group announced that they are accepting bitcoin for hotel reservations. Dell, Expedia, and Newegg, which is an electronics store also accepts bitcoin. The spaceline, Virgin Galactic, which is first in the world, also accepts bitcoin for space flights. This year, the Westfield Vancouver mall also installed their first bitcoin machine. Vancouver has become a bitcoin friendly city and is spreading its cyrptocurrency influence all through out Canada and the world. Learn to start using bitcoin now!