HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - When you go shopping, there are several ways you can pay for the items in your shopping cart. But it’s likely that one way is a currency you haven’t seriously considered. It’s the digital currency called Bitcoin.
We’ve found there are actually Bitcoin ATMs in Huntsville. We went on a mission to find out how the machines work.
Bitcoin was created in 2008 because of the economic recession where millions of people lost a lot of money. As a result, some people also lost trust in the federal reserve and the value of the dollar. Ten years later, Bitcoin is thriving and people here in the Valley are using it as they shop.
Ricky Esneault got involved with Bitcoin five years ago.
“I paid for my whole honeymoon with Bitcoin, just through my BitPay card. Went from restaurant to restaurant and hotel to hotel using Bitcoin. I also bought a hot tub on overstock and just recently bought a new car,” said Esneault.
Stephen Tygielski bought his first bitcoin almost two years ago.
“I’ll cash it out into my bank account and I’ll use it to pay for rent, food, gas, or whatever by just transferring it into U.S.D.,” said Tygielski.
Both men say the digital currency is easy to use, easy to get and easy to carry. Instead of a traditional wallet, Esneault and Tygielski use devices called hard wallets. They look like a USB drive.
Bitcoin also has plastic cards and they’re connected to Visa, making it easy to shop at stores that currently don’t accept Bitcoin.
“I have two credit cards, fuse and a BitPay card, and you can transfer your cryptocurrency on there and it exchanges it immediately, so if you need to pay with physical dollars, you can pay with dollars if the merchant isn’t actually taking bitcoin or other cryptos,” said Esneault.
“I have my bank account directly linked to a couple exchanges, so whenever I need to convert to the U.S. dollar, I just funnel it back into the exchange there,” said Tygielski.
Running out of bitcoin isn’t a problem if you live in Huntsville. There’s an ATM machine located inside Animal Care Clinic on South Memorial Parkway. You can put dollars in to get more cryptocurrency added to your account.
“You can roll up to the ATM and it depends on what you want to buy, a full bitcoin, or if you want several bitcoin, or if you want to buy a fraction of a bitcoin, you can do that. You just select what you want and insert the cast, print you off a receipt and there’s your physical bitcoin,” said Esneault.
Cryptocurrencies do come with a warning. They’re not regulated, and their value goes up and down just like the stock market.
“Bitcoin used to be a couple of pennies per bitcoin back when it was created in 2008 and probably through most of 2009 as well. We saw a huge run up due to manipulation and large speculation last year when it ran up to almost $20,000, and it went down to about the $6,500 mark,” said Tygielski.
There are thousands of cryptocurrencies, but Bitcoin is the most popular because it was the first one. Some people think Bitcoin will become the currency of the world.
As you saw, it’s a digital currency and it’s not backed by the FDIC so remember: You buy and sell digital currencies at your own risk.