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Cryptocurrency is Suddenly Everywhere — Except in the Cash Register

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The cryptocurrency ATM at Reiter's Books in Washington, D.C.

Within bitcoin, the original and still largest cryptocurrency, only a tenth of transactions amount to any “economically meaningful” activity, according to an October study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Credit: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/The Washington Post

Billionaire tech executive Michael Saylor has called bitcoin "the seminal invention of the human race." His website describes it as "a bank in cyberspace" offering a "simple, & secure savings account to billions of people." He recently claimed ownership of 17,732 bitcoin worth about $740 million.

But one thing Saylor cannot do with bitcoin is pay for the $18 shrimp cocktail at Tony and Joe's Seafood Place several floors below his penthouse apartment on Washington's Georgetown waterfront. Though Tony and Joe's has an ATM that can convert cash into bitcoin, the restaurant won't accept it.

"I would take Monopoly money before I took cryptocurrency," said a manager, who declined to give his name.

Nearly 30,000 bitcoin ATMs now dot the American landscape in gas stations, liquor stores and hair salons, up from 1,800 four years ago. About half of Coinstar's 17,000 kiosks, which convert coins into cash, now sell bitcoin. And consumers have a growing array of options for buying, selling and transmitting the digital currency, including popular payment apps such as Venmo and Cash App.

From The Washington Post
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