Vancouver to host Bitcoin ATMs -

Advocates for the alternative digital currency, Bitcoin, are quick to sing its praises - but actually using the platform as cash can prove difficult. Finding the right online exchanges and retailers to spend the money is not entirely user friendly, which is why it's interesting an enterprise in Vancouver, Canada, is planning to open five Bitcoin ATMs.

Vancouver's Bitcoiniacs will buy up five RoboCoin Bitcoin ATMs, each of them costing $20,000. Something that represents a digital wallet, such as a QR code, identifies the user, who then pays cash in, a small cut is taken, and the customer gets their Bitcoin cash sent digitally to their wallet.

Bitcoiniacs already offers transfers to Bitcoin, ZDNet says, but appointments must be made first. The ATMs promise to make the process easier. 

Bitcoin is a decentralised digital currency with a thriving, enthusiastic community. Fans insist it's a way to democratise cash flow outside of big banks, but there are pros and cons that come with that - such as artificial inflation and market crashes. Users "mine" the currency by dedicating compute power to solving complex algorithms as part of an online network.

Indeed, the network recently passed the 1 exaFLOPS point, making it faster than top supercomputers combined.

Bitcoin has received its fair share of criticism. As well as being marked as unstable, as with this year's flash crash, the currency has been sensationalised as a way to buy drugs or other illegal wares on the TOR network.

But it also offers possibilities and alternatives to the way markets operate in the future, supporters say.

A pub in Hackney, London, was among the first bricks-and-mortar establishment to embrace the technology in the UK. The Pembury Tavern has been accepting Bitcoin as currency since earlier this year.