You know something has reached the mainstream when people are talking about it. Cryptocurrency certainly qualifies at this point. Everyone from journalists to government leaders are talking about it these days, though it seems like everyone has a different opinion. So it is with great curiosity that we do our best to keep up on all the cryptocurrency news.
One of the most intriguing stories as of late revolves around comments by nocoiner Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. Mayor Stewart apparently is not a big fan of cryptocurrency ATMs.1 We will discuss his thoughts along with a couple of other things in this post. All three items have one thing in common: they are proof that cryptocurrency is both mainstream and quickly gaining ground as a respected monetary system.
Potential ban on BATMs
Beginning with the story out of Vancouver, there is a very real possibility that Bitcoin ATMs will be banned in that city at some point in the future. Mayor Stewart is joined by other local leaders who believe a complete and total ban is necessary in order to fight money laundering.
The thinking arises out of recent police reports suggesting that Bitcoin ATMs are an "ideal money laundering vehicle" that make it too easy for criminals to cover their tracks. Vancouver police have estimated they will have received some 840 cryptocurrency-related reports by the end of 2019. If their numbers pan out, that would mean a 300% increase over 2018.
Not sure what that has to do with BATMs? And considering the small buying and selling limits of most BATMs, a ban is just nonsense.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are already under fire in Vancouver even without talk of a potential ATM ban. Earlier in 2018, the city council imposed new rules forcing ATM owners to hold business licenses, among other things. A ban on ATMs altogether would mean a serious blow to local operators who derive income from the machines.
The crypto community has responded by saying there are better ways to address the money-laundering issue. For example, they say that cryptocurrency ATMs could be reclassified so that they fall under federal money services regulations. This would give Canada's federal government more regulatory control of the ATM business without having to ban the machines.
How crypto ATMs work
Cryptocurrency ATMs are almost always Bitcoin ATMs by default. They are not ATMs in the traditional sense of the definition inasmuch as they are not tied to a bank. They also cannot be used to manage a person's account in the same way some bank ATMs can be. The crypto ATM is nothing more than a machine that allows for the purchase and sale of crypto.
Your typical Bitcoin ATM allows you to purchase coins by inserting fiat. Many of the machines also allow you to sell your coins for cash. Whether or not you need an existing cryptocurrency account with the ATM operator varies from one machine to the next. Some require accounts while others do not.
To purchase coins, you would simply insert your fiat and press a few buttons. The machine would register the purchase and produce a receipt containing your wallet information. Selling coins would work in the opposite direction. You enter your wallet information and the machine spits out cash.
Bitcoin mining with renewable energy
If you are a fan of both Bitcoin and renewable energy, this next story should be right up your alley. Coin Telegraph reported on 7 June (2019) that just over 74% of all Bitcoin mining is now powered by renewable energy. Those numbers come from a biannual report published by a research firm known as CoinShares.
The CoinShares report indicates that mining with renewable energy is not only doable, it is also quite profitable. Doing the work with renewable energy is even possible with older equipment that doesn't work as efficiently. CoinShares says that the return on investment (ROI) mining offers continues to make it attractive to large and small miners alike. However, mining does seem to be concentrated more in areas with ample renewable energy resources.
Mining with renewable energy is especially attractive in China where hydroelectric power is comparatively cheap. Operators there are apparently firing up old equipment that had been shut down during the recently ended crypto winter. With prices on the rise, that equipment is once again adding to the computing power of the Bitcoin network.
Knowing that 74% of all Bitcoin mining is powered by renewable energy is a good thing. If there is any bad news, it is the fact that these latest numbers show a slight drop. CoinShares data from November 2018 indicated that nearly 78% of mining operations were powered by renewable energy at that time.
Blockchain tourism in Russia
Our final news item is more blockchain than pure crypto, but it is still important, nonetheless. The report comes out of Russia's state-owned TASS news agency. That agency is reporting that leaders in the Yugra region of Russia have reached an agreement with a blockchain start-up to create and launch a new online tourism platform.
According to Coin Telegraph, Yugra regional development fund general director Roman Genkel has worked out a deal with Universa to create a tourism platform capable of not only serving the needs of tourists, but also tracking all public spending and investment related to the project.
The platform is intended to connect all of the stakeholders within the tourism ecosystem. It will allow consumers to make and pay for their travel arrangements. It will allow various vendors within the ecosystem to communicate with one another, move payments between themselves, and track the state of the industry at any given time.
Included in the platform will be tourism providers, hospitality-based businesses, transportation providers, caterers, investors, and tourists. Blockchain will be used as the primary mechanism for all items within the ecosystem requiring tracking. It is assumed that developers will use a series of smart contracts to keep everything separate.
The news out of Russia is particularly good for the tourism industry. However, what eventually becomes of the project will not be a one-of-a-kind platform. A few similar platforms have sprung up around the world in recent years. A number of new projects are also in development at this time.
For example, Dubai announced its own blockchain tourism platform in March 2018. Their project is intended to be a business-to-business (B2B) platform that acts as a marketplace for tourism and hospitality providers. At its launch, Dubai's leaders made it clear that they wanted to be "10 years ahead of other world cities" with the completion of the project.
Back in Russia, Rosneft has left open the possibility that they will begin accepting cryptocurrency payments at some point in the future. Rosneft is Russia's state-owned oil company. The company has not announced any specific plans as of yet, but they have stated they would be open to accepting the stablecoin rumored to be on its way from Facebook.
Going mainstream is a good thing
None of these stories may mean anything to you if you are not heavily invested in cryptocurrency as a business owner, blockchain developer, or investor. Nonetheless, they all prove that Bitcoin and most of the other big-name cryptocurrencies are both mainstream and gaining greater acceptance. This is a good thing on many levels.
The fact that Vancouver officials are considering regulating Bitcoin ATMs demonstrates just how viable Bitcoin is as a monetary system. If you set aside the legal implications for just one minute and, instead, look at the reasons why criminals launder their money through crypto, it becomes apparent just how viable cryptocurrency is as a way of paying for things.
Being able to deposit bitcoins at an online gambling site is an amazing thing that a lot of people take for granted. Consider the fact that some of those Bitcoin casinos feature the Mega Moolah slot game. As you already may know, MegaMoolah.com features a variety of progressive jackpots that pay out some of the highest amounts in the online gambling world.
It used to be that you could not play slots with cryptocurrency. Because the game is networked for purposes of its progressive jackpot, cryptocurrency was previously not allowed because it was not usable across the entire game network. Things have changed now - primarily because Bitcoin has become so mainstream.
Bumps along the way
Cryptocurrency is like any other technology in that it takes time to develop. Along the way, there will be bumps. Any action taken by the city of Vancouver to ban Bitcoin ATMs would be considered a bump. Rest assured that such a ban would certainly not the devalue Bitcoin or make it any less attractive as a monetary system.
It is possible that cryptocurrency will never replace fiat as the world's default monetary system. But does it really have to in order to be viable? No. As people and businesses have proven time and again, crypto is a viable and practical way to pay for things outside of the fiat paradigm. It is the veritable genie that has been let out of the bottle. And now that it is out, there's no putting it back in.
1) The Next Web. Vancouver mayor suggests Bitcoin ATM ban to stop money laundering.