Bitcoin in The County

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 1:10 PM EST
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MARS HILL, Maine (WAGM) -

Bitcoin has come to the county. And while this form of cryptocurrency is well over a decade old now, some may still have trouble understanding it. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has the story.

Bitcoin. It’s not something you may have jingling in your pocket. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, which is a digital form of currency that is not federally regulated. There is a limited supply of Bitcoins and the price is determined on a supply and demand model with exchange rates similar to foreign currency.

Judith Shaw is the Securities Administrator for the State of Maine Office of Securities, and one of her office’s main concerns revolves around government regulation of the digital currency.

“One of the challenges that we experience with virtual currency is the fact that there’s still a question about how it should be properly regulated. Is it regulated as a security, is it regulated under the banking construct, or is the transfer of it, when we talk about ATM’s for example is the transfer of it under the purview of the bureau of consumer credit protection?” says Shaw.

And while the government may have problems with the decentralized nature of Bitcoin, those who invest in the currency see the lack of regulation as a form of freedom.

“Prior to bitcoin the way that you would transact value between two parties was usually through a trusted third party like a bank.” says Peterson.

Tristian Peterson and Michael Newell are co-owners of Maine Bitcoin, LLC. A local Maine Business which owns Bitcoin ATMs around the state. These Bitcoin ATM’s allow you to purchase, or sell bitcoin at the kiosk, in exchange for U.S. Dollars. Recently one of their machines has appeared in Mars Hill.

“But basically what they found out a way to do was instead of trusting this bank or this escrow guy over here, we can do it without trusting anybody, and it sort of flips the whole trust model on its head.” says Peterson.

The FBI recently issued a public service announcement warning consumers of potential scams involving Bitcoin ATM’s. A scammer will instruct you to purchase bitcoin at one of these ATMS, and then transfer the cryptocurrency to their own digital wallet using a QR Code, in a similar manner to gift card or western union scams that have been in the public for years.

“There’s no FDIC insurance, there’s no requirement that certain appropriate internal controls and securities are in place…because of the technology and the cyber nature they can be more suseptiable to fraud and theft and certainly more susceptible than a traditional regulated financial institution, and where do you go for help?” says Shaw.

“One of the main things that our business does is we emphasize education because we don’t want people going to our machines, buying Bitcoin or Etherium and not knowing what their doing…Just like with any aspect of business, there are scammers that are trying to scam people and it does happen, people will be in contact with someone that is scamming them, and they will tell them to go to one of our machines, so we do some things, and we try to mitigate that, so that they cant get scammed, and they don’t understand whats happening but they can’t make a transaction.” says Newell.

“I just want to make sure that people understand that when it comes to virtual currency it truly is that old adage of buyer beware and when it comes to investments in general, I just want to remind people that before you decide to give your money away to somebody or in this case, something, make sure that you check that you fully understand the investment.” says Shaw.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

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