During the summer, Budapest joined other cities in the world (New York, Dallas, Canberra, Johannesburg, and Douglas, Isle of Man) as its first first Bitcoin ATM (aka BTM – Bitcoin teller machine), was unveiled in a bar (Anker Klub on Anker köz), a bar that also accepts bitcoins as cash. Opinions are divided. As Hungary’s central bank warns about the risks of virtual currency, a former CB official István Varga reckons: ‘This is how it starts, and in the end this will grow throughout society and become a natural part of our everyday lives.’
We first wrote about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in June this year in the lead-up to our webinar on their technical, policy, monetary, and development contexts. For those of you who don’t yet have a comprehensive grasp of how Bitcoin works, here is a useful introduction (from Grauniad). Bitcoin and the use of cryptocurrencies is one of those developments that reminds me of the time when we were busy introducing e-mail into large organisations. We had no idea that it would persist and grow as it has; we simply knew that it made life so much easier and offered massive opportunities to increase organisational and personal communication, and thus efficiency. We had to continually explain how it worked, how to use it safely, and so on. Yet eyes would glaze over because for many, many people, the idea of electronic transfer of information, quickly, relatively safely, and certainly as securely as physical mail required a conceptual leap into a virtual world that challenged too many assumptions and embedded practices.
Over the course of the next few weeks, Diplo’s Simona Cioroiu will be looking at what’s happening the Bitcoin world. Feel free to comment and share your experience with the cryptocurrency, too.