Bitcoin ATM Launches in Vancouver

The tech press is full of stories about the first North American bitcoin “ATM” opening in a coffee shop in Vancouver. This is all well and good, but the bit about a palmprint being required for “anti money laundering law” got my attention.

Bitcoin is presumably popular because of its relative anonymity (let’s call it pseudonymity). This service is requiring something that is even more personally invasive than a standard bank account – your biometric information.

Yes, I know there’s a whole variety of ways that this system could be circumvented. From using a “fake” palm (ala the fake fingers used for the print scanners; with some poor quality scanners just a high resolution print would suffice) to using silicone to modify your own palmprint, we have heard of them all. No doubt you could also just offer the bum outside fifty bucks to do your bidding and hope he doesn’t run out the back exit with your cash. Nonetheless this doesn’t sit right with me, especially as this is not a true ATM but more akin to a currency exchange and one with a $1000/day limit. Last time I converted some cash into Canadian dollars at my local exchange I wasn’t asked for biometric identification. Indeed, I wasn’t asked for any ID whatsoever. Why is this process any different?

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