At Manhattan bodega Grace News, there’s an unusual new machine sitting between a shelf of “tobacco use only” glass pipes and a cooler of soda. It looks like an ATM, but significantly more futuristic: taller, grayer, curvier, with a huge, bright screen. It’s also, for the moment, out of order.
“There was a software update this morning, I think,” says a man behind the counter who declined to give me his name. “Now—not working. But they pay a fee every month, whether it works or not,” he says, shrugging.
The new machine isn’t an ATM, but a BTM—a Bitcoin teller machine. There are now more than 80 in New York City, and dozens more around the country. But are they enough to make cryptocurrency a de facto choice?
This year, Bitcoin has increased in value more than a thousand percent, with the price of a single Bitcoin recently (albeit briefly) breaking $17,000. Entrepreneurs of all types have poured into the space (the Winklevoss twins, for example, now run Bitcoin exchange Gemini). Bitcoin has entered the public consciousness as something that’s mysterious, volatile, and most of all, extremely valuable. But where these benefits are going, and who really has access to them, is a murkier question.
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