Bitcoin is a system controlled a network of machines spread across the internet. When you buy a bitcoin, you’re essentially buying cryptographically protected numbers that you can then move around using a global, peer-to-peer network of computers. It’s money, but it moves as easily as email.
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The Robocoin isn’t like other ATMs. It doesn’t take debit or credit cards. It’s a cash-only machine. You put your money in, and it gives you numbers — addresses that link to bitcoins, the world’s most popular digital currency. Or, if you already own some bitcoins, the machine can scan a QR code on your mobile phone and dispense cash.
The Nevada guys who built Robocoin tested it out at a San Jose, California, convention last May, but this is the first time they’ve installed one of their machines in a permanent fashion. It’s yet another sign that Bitcoin, created just over five years ago, is moving out of the realm of computer geeks and into the mainstream.
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