Zach Harvey has an ambitious plan to accelerate adoption of the Internet’s favorite alternative currency: installing in thousands of bars, restaurants, and grocery stores ATMs that will let you buy Bitcoins anonymously.
Bitcoin has gradually increased in popularity since it appeared in 2009, with WordPress saying last fall that it would accept it as a payment method, and a handful of retail businesses, including Cups and Cakes Bakery in San Francisco, following suit. The exchange rate now hovers around US$30 a coin, and about $300 million is in circulation.
Unlike modern currency, which can be brought into existence at the whim of politicians or a central bank, leading to each note being devalued, the number of Bitcoins is governed by predictable mathematical algorithms. That’s made Bitcoin popular among libertarians and other activists skeptical of the Federal Reserve; the Free State Project accepts payment for its summer festival in Bitcoins, for instance. (The U.S. dollar has lost 96 percent of its value over the last century because of cumulative year-over-year inflation, according to federal government data.)