Digital currency now accessible at this New Orleans convenience store

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) -- The Brown Derby on Tulane just got really modernized with a new digital currency ATM, which the co-founder of Texas based company Coinsource believes is the future of money.

"Digital currency can be used a variety of different ways, one you can remit it to family friends, anybody, and you can hold it" said Bobby Sharp of Coinsource. "You know ironically in 2012 you could buy a bitcoin for $9, now you can buy it for $720, just in the last year that's a 200% increase, so that's pretty exciting stuff."

Bitcoin was the highest performing currency of 2015, and has done even better this year. They aren't printed like conventional dollars; they are produced by computers and held electronically. No one controls it. Bitcoins aren’t printed, like dollars or euros – they’re produced by computers all around the world, using software that solves mathematical problems to verify transactions and to keep the network secure. In fact, the bitcoin network itself is essentially unhackable.

Bitcoin can be used to buy things electronically. In that sense, it’s like conventional dollars, euros, or yen, which are also traded digitally. Bitcoin’s most important characteristic, and the thing that makes it different to conventional money, is that it is decentralized. No single institution controls the bitcoin network. This puts some people at ease, because it means that a large bank can’t control their money.

"With these kind of BTMs, if I'm going to travel to Japan and I have a digital wallet I can extract fiat currency, or Yen, with my bitcoin wallet and not have to pay that tremendous interest rate. There's different digital currency wallets we actually have our own wallet its called coinsource" said Sharp.

Sharp is a co-founder of the company that distributes bitcoin ATMs. Bitcoin was created by a software developer with a pseudonymous name of Satoshi Nakamoto (Australian Craig Wright recently claimed this identity). The idea was to produce a currency independent of any central authority, transferable electronically, more or less instantly, with very low transaction fees.

There’s a growing list of people using bitcoin for everyday things like online shopping, hotel bookings, remittances and even dating memberships. There is also a rapidly growing list of merchants that are accepting bitcoin as payment for goods and services online.

For instance, you can use bitcoin to buy just about anything on Overstock.com, the first online retailer to accept bitcoin.

You can also get dramatic discounts on anything at Amazon.com using Purse, the largest bitcoin e-commerce site.

When the Greek financial crisis hit, residents were lining up at banks and regular ATMs trying to access money. The banks were only allowing people access to 60 Euro per day, regardless of the amount of money they had in their accounts. After a while, the banks actually had no fiat currency left in some ATMs to allow people to withdraw money, leaving residents with no way to purchase everyday items.

If people had access to Bitcoin ATMs, they could have used the machines to withdraw whatever amount of money they needed, using bitcoin. Instantly, they could have converted bitcoin to Euros, without any involvement from bank or government, to access fiat currency and buy everyday items.

"So if you have extra change or cash that you want to convert in to bitcoin, you can buy bitcoin and hog shank at the same place (The Brown Derby) so that's pretty exciting stuff," remarked Sharp.