BURTON (WJRT) (12/12/17) A new type of ATM is starting to show up in Mid-Michigan.
You can't get any money from it but you can make an investment in Bitcoin.
We found two in the Flint area and one in Bay City. It's a way to buy an electronic currency that has dramatically increased in value.
A Sunoco station on Belsay Road in Burton is the site of one of the Bitcoin ATMs.
If you have the right app on your phone your can buy a whole Bitcoin, which will cost you thousands of dollars. Or you can buy a fraction of one. Whatever you do, you won't actually receive a coin, just digital proof that you made the purchase.
It has become an international currency, where you don't need back accounts or credit.
"It's an electronic method of payment that allows payments to be made anonymously," said Chris Douglas, University of Michigan-Flint associate professor of economics.
There are some businesses like Dell, Microsoft, Paypal and Expedia that accept Bitcoin. It also has a shadowy side to it.
"People like it to buy perhaps illegal things anonymously," Douglas.
Many see Bitcoin as a way to get rich.
"The price has exploded this year," said Douglas.
Or as a hedge against inflation.
"Ten years ago, people who were worried about inflation held gold. Now I think in 2017 people who are worried about inflation hold Bitcoin," said Douglas.
Bitcoin has such a short history it's hard to say where it will go.
"Maybe it goes to $100,000 per Bitcoin before it crashes back to earth. Or maybe it never crashes back to earth. It's hard to say," Douglas said.
One investor said Bitcoin can give a nice steady income from investing, but you shouldn't risk the rent or the mortgage with it.