The Bitcoin is making strides.
More than $1 billion of the digital currency has been circulating online, surpassing the entire currency stock of 20 smaller countries like Liberia and Bhutan, Fox News reports. One Bitcoin sells for more than $90 compared to $40 before Cyprus’ banks closed.
The virtual currency is maintained by a community of open-source developers and issued using complex computations. It’s a form of virtual cash that Europeans have been buying up since Cyprus’ banking crisis that limited citizens’ access to cash, ABC News reports.
Recent developments show the currency going more mainstream.
Expensify, a popular startup that creates expense reports for small and medium-sized companies, announced it will be accepting the Bitcoin to lower the costs of international transactions, Businessweek reports.
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“It’s secure, instantaneous and totally free. We support PayPal, but it is expensive. A 4 percent charge on a large reimbursement can really add up,” David Barrett, Expensify CEO told VentureBeat, explaining that Bitcoin is an ideal alternative for international transfers.
Jeff Berwick, a Canadian investor, announced on March 25 that he has plans to install a Bitcoin ATM machine in Cyprus citing the country’s banking crisis, according to a statement.
The machine would function as a currency exchange. The ATM would be able to deposit cash into a Bitcoin account and withdraw Bitcoins from an account and dispense it in the form of cash, Berwick told IBTimes.
Bitcoins are appealing for struggling countries like Cyprus whose government has considered dipping into citizens’ bank accounts to resolve its financial crisis, Fox News reports. This fear has led Cypriots and other Europeans to take money out of their accounts, according to the news outlet.
“So they buy gold, they put it under the mattress, or they buy bitcoin,” Tony Gallippi, CEO of BitPay.com, told Fox News.
In the United States, the law is catching up with the popular currency, which could lead to more consumers getting their hands on Bitcoins. Last week, regulators published the first official guidelines for private digital currencies where companies must verify the identity of the Bitcoin exchanger and report any large transactions to the government, Fox News reports.
Gallippi sees this as progress.
“Now people can see that it's not illegal, that it's not banned,” Gallippi said.