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Clover Welcomes Harvard Square’s First Bitcoin ATM

By Theodore R. Delwiche, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: March 18, 2014, at 6:09 p.m.

Clover Food Lab, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant chain located on Holyoke St., installed the first Bitcoin ATM in Harvard Square Monday morning.

The ATM is the second that Liberty Teller, the same company that introduced an ATM to South Station last month, has constructed.

“Our ultimate goal is to make Bitcoin accessible to people everywhere, and South Station was a huge start,” co-founder of Liberty Teller Chris Yim said. “But we had a lot of demand...for something in Cambridge.”

Yim, who showed the ATM to the Harvard Bitcoin Club last month before installing it in Clover, said that Ayr Muir, CEO and founder of Clover Food Labs and fellow MIT graduate, was excited about the prospect of a Bitcoin ATM at his restaurant.

"[Yim] asked if we would help him out with a little experiment to see if a high-traffic, fast-food restaurant like ours would be a good site for one of the first Bitcoin ATMs in the country," Muir said in a statement to Boston Business Journal. "We're giving it a go and we're excited to see what happens."

The Bitcoin ATM, which is smaller than a standard ATM and rests on a stand, allows customers to scan their Bitcoin wallet address—essentially their Bitcoin bank account—and convert their cash to Bitcoin. The ATM does not currently, however, allow customers to convert Bitcoin (BTC) to U.S. dollars.

The introduction of the ATM comes after several meetups of Harvard’s Bitcoin Club, an informal group started by an alleged Harvard Business School alumnus who calls himself "John Harvard Bitcoin." The group convenes periodically to discuss virtual currency, and "John Harvard Bitcoin" offers attendees free Bitcoins and Dogecoins.

Neither members of the club nor The Crimson have been able to confirm the self-described alumnus's identity.

At the last meeting, attendants said they received around .03 BTC from "John Harvard Bitcoin," a figure that represents approximately $20 according to the $623 price of a single Bitcoin at press time.

According to "John Harvard Bitcoin," the club will be holding a Bitcoin panel at HBS that will feature Yim on Mar. 24.

Yim said that although he is still working out how he will balance his company’s time between South Station and Harvard Square, he is excited to attend the panel and help provide for the demand he sees for Bitcoin in the Square.

“Whenever we are not at the machine or working on the locations...we will definitely try to go out to the [Harvard Bitcoin Club] meetups. It’s great to see all the interest,” he said.

—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at Follow him on twitter @trdelwic.

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