ROSEBURG — Cryptocurrency used to be the province of the tech-savvy, but it could be more accessible to Umatilla County residents in 2021.
Daniel Polotsky, the CEO and founder of CoinFlip, said the company recently expanded into Oregon with a cryptocurrency ATM in Roseburg, and he expects the company will be installing ATMs in Umatilla County in the next six to 12 months.
“We’re trying to make the process of cryptocurrency super simple for everyone,” he said.
In layman’s terms, cryptocurrency is a type of digital money that is not tied to a specific country or government. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, are based on blockchain technology, which authenticates the currency by creating a sort of public, decentralized ledger recording the history of a unit of currency as it is transferred from person to person.
Polotsky said CoinFlip’s ATMs around the world allow people to put in the currency of the government where they are located and receive one of nine different popular cryptocurrencies in their digital “wallet.” They can then use those cryptocurrencies to purchase items from sellers that accept them.
“You put in cash, and then get cryptocurrency to your wallet before you even get to your car,” he said.
Some of CoinFlip’s more than 1,400 ATMs also allow users to turn their cryptocurrencies back into U.S. dollars.
According to CoinATMRadar, which provides a searchable online database of cryptocurrency ATMs, there are currently about 12,429 such ATMs in the world. The site does not yet list any in Umatilla County, but lists several in the Tri-Cities in Washington. Polotsky said most ATM providers, including CoinFlip, look for convenience stores and other locations that are open 24 hours a day and have high foot traffic.
Cryptocurrencies are known for their volatility compared to traditional currencies — according to Fox Business, on Thanksgiving Day Bitcoin was trading at $16,581.20 per bitcoin after a high of $19,391 a few hours earlier. The unpredictable nature of the decentralized currencies means the internet is rife with stories of people who became millionaires by investing in the right currency at the right time, and people who lost their life savings by betting on the wrong currency and watching it fizzle out.
The Federal Trade Commission cautions that while cryptocurrencies come with benefits, such as anonymity and a lack of bank fees, they also don’t come with the same government-backed protections as a traditional bank account. Scammers are more frequently asking their victims to pay in cryptocurrencies, the FTC warns on its website, because victims are unable to get their money back by disputing a credit card charge or other recourses they have with more traditional methods of payments.
“Cryptocurrency payments typically are not reversible,” the website states. “Once you pay with cryptocurrency, you only can get your money back if the seller sends it back.”