Advocates say Bitcoin ATMs fill a void in poor areas underserved by banks; law enforcement sees them as tools for money-laundering. A Bitcoin ATM his is shown at the Exxon station in Southfield.

(Photo: Detroit News illustration) The 23 Bitcoin automated-teller machines in Detroit are installed in places like the Big V Party Store on the northwest side. Signs outside the Big V prominently advertise its goods and services: check-cashing, money orders, liquor, Lotto tickets — and since last year, an ATM dedicated to the so-called future of money.

All the Bitcoin ATMs in Detroit are in low-income areas, and they represent uncharted ground for this new currency that exists only in cyberspace. Advocates say the machines merely fill a financial void in neighborhoods that banks and traditional lending institutions largely ignore.

Security analysts and law-enforcement officials say they are tools for small-time money-laundering. “The truth is, it could be both scenarios,” said Yaya Fanusie, a former economic and counter-terrorism analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency.

He now studies the impact of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. “It’s a guess because the technology is new. Read more from…

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