ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) – A security expert is weighing in on a Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain’s decision to put Bitcoin ATMs in five shops around the state.
Sheetz, based in Altoona, Pennsylvania, announced Tuesday it has teamed up with Coinsource to put the ATMs in the five Pennsylvania stores and a shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
But does such easy access in high foot-traffic areas raise any security concerns for a currency that is, right now, unregulated?
“A lot of criminals will use crypto-currency such as Bitcoin to transfer money because it is virtually untraceable by the US government,” said President of INA, Inc., John Sancenito. “It becomes a currency of choice for criminal activity, for money laundering, for drug trafficking, for terrorism activities.”
Bitcoin is all electronic and is similar to money in a bank account, except there is no middle man: you type in your account number into the kiosk and either deposit money to add to your Bitcoins or your withdraw crash from an existing balance.
Sancenito adds that in addition to being an unregulated currency, Bitcoin is volatile meaning its value can fluctuate greatly day to day. There’s also virtually no way, he says, that any lost Bitcoin can be recovered.
“If an individual came into your account and withdrew money from your account by having access to your account, you would really have no means to prove that you ever owned that account,” said Sancenito. “This is certainly not for everyone, you have to have some knowledge of the bitcoin network in order to use this efficiently.”
Ryan Sheetz, a vice president at the company, says the chain is always trying to be innovative and give customers what they want.
Customers must enroll with Coinsource before they can use the ATMs. Then, they’ll be able to make transactions from $5 to $5,000 per day from the machines.
Family-owned Sheetz operates over 585 stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina.
The Pennsylvania Sheetz locations that have a Bitcoin kiosk are:
•1915 Pleasant Valley Blvd, Altoona, PA 16602
•1315 Lincoln Way E, Chambersburg, PA 17202
•7970 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112
•3025 Babcock Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15237
•101 Valley Vista Dr, State College, PA 16803
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.