Bitcoin's Moving Up in the World

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That’s how many Bitcoin ATMs there are in the U.S., even as El Salvador on Tuesday became the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as its national currency. 

According to Coin ATM Radar, which tracks Bitcoin ATMs around the world, the U.S. is by far the leader in the number of Bitcoin ATMs available, with 86.6%, up from about 30% at the end of 2014, when there were only about 90 of the machines nationwide. 

Bitcoin ATMs allow people to go to an automated teller machine wherever they may be - inside a convenience store or coffee shop - and buy digital currency. El Salvador has four locations with Bitcoin ATMs, Coin ATM Radar data shows, and now people there reportedly will be able to use Bitcoin to pay their bill at McDonald’s, Starbucks, and other places.

Sure, there were some hiccups in El Salvador’s launch of the new plan, with the government having to unplug its digital wallet for a time to cope with high demand. And the number of Bitcoin ATMs in the U.S. is paltry compared with the 470,135 regular ATMs around the country as of 2018. But all of this shows just how mainstream this once mysterious digital unit has become. Bitcoin was launched in 2009 by an anonymous source as the first blockchain-based cryptocurrency, and its value is now estimated at more than $600 billion, give or take. The market for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has exploded, and there are now more than 10,000 publicly traded cryptocurrencies, which were valued at more than $1.2 trillion as of July 22, the Atlanta Fed reported on July 26.

“The circulation of bitcoin will help create more trading opportunities, search for new partners, reduce costs for day-to-day monetary operations, and facilitate financial inclusion,” El Salvador’s government said on its web site Monday.

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