Bitcoin has surfed to an all-time high amid the pandemic, and there’s at least five Bitcoin ATM machines in Arlington where you can buy the cryptocurrency.
Locally, Bitcoin’s rise has been further fueled by a recent $650 million investment from Tysons-based firm MicroStrategy.
“The new pandemic crisis just sped things up,” local Bitcoin investor Raj Paladugu told ARLnow. “It could take money from the gold market in just three years, instead of the five years that was forecasted.”
Bitcoin ATMs — also known as BTMs — have been in Arlington since 2015.
Other publicly-listed BTM locations in Arlington include:
Two Florida residents have been arrested after police say they were seen using a card “skimming” device on an ATM machine in Shirlington.
Gheorghe Cosmin-Dacian and Cristian Roman, both 35 years old, were arrested during a subsequent traffic stop and now face multiple charges.
More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
FRAUD (Significant), 2018-04100224, 2700 block of S. Quincy Street. On April 10, police were conducting a follow-up investigation after a skimming device had been located on an ATM in the 2700 block of S. Quincy Street earlier that day. Officers observed one of the suspects, who had been previously captured on surveillance, approach the ATM multiple times. The suspect then fled the scene in an awaiting vehicle. Officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and the two occupants were taken into custody. Gheorghe Cosmin-Dacian, 35, and Cristian Nicola Roman, 35, both of Jacksonville, Florida were arrested and charged with identity theft, credit card theft, credit card forgery and unlawful use of payment card scanning devices. The suspects were held without bond.
Update at 6:40 p.m. — The photo above has been corrected. Police inadvertently sent a photo of a different individual with the same name as one of the suspects.
Arlington County Police said they recovered a “skimmer” device designed to steal credit and debit card information from a Clarendon ATM late last week.
ACPD said officers responded to the 3000 block of Wilson Blvd just after 11 a.m. on Friday, January 12 after hearing reports of the device. Police determined that it was installed at some point between the previous afternoon and that morning.
Police did not specify which ATM the device was installed at. That block is home to a BB&T bank branch and ATM.
In a tweet, ACPD warned ATM users to monitor their bank statements and report any activity that appears to be fraudulent.
FRAUD ALERT: On Friday, ACPD recovered a skimmer on an ATM in Clarendon (details: https://t.co/6hXJtFm5cg). Reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim with these crime prevention tips: https://t.co/LYbHg9zody pic.twitter.com/VNJIvTy7Cs
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 16, 2018
While we have most recently seen credit card skimmers inside gas pumps, the tips to keep your banking information are the same. We encourage you to regularly monitor your bank statements and report fraudulent activity.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 16, 2018
More from an ACPD crime report:
SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES (Significant), 2018-01120112, 3000 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 11:11 a.m. on January 12, police responded to the area for the report of a skimming device located inside an ATM. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 4:30 p.m. on January 11 and 10:30 a.m. on January 12, an unknown suspect placed the device inside the machine. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.
Photo via Google Maps.
The Bitcoin ATM helps consumers buy Bitcoin using cash. Once the consumer deposits cash, the machine can either print out a paper wallet or scan your existing digital wallet on your cell phone to transfer the Bitcoin.
So what is a Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a new digital currency, similar to money but easier to use. It allows you to send money to anyone, at anytime and anywhere for fractions of a penny. Bitcoin is fast, has little or no fees for the merchant and it’s secure.
Consumers no longer have to worry about their data getting stolen — Bitcoin transactions are private and don’t require you to exchange any personal information like you do with credit cards, and merchants love it because they don’t have to pay credit card fees. Have a family member across the world that needs money? Just send them Bitcoin and they will have it in less than a second.
Merchants who currently accept it are Microsoft, Overstock, Dell computers, Expedia and others. Since the technology is relatively new, most brick and mortar merchants don’t accept it yet.
The goal is to bring Bitcoin to main street, and the Bitcoin ATM is the beginning of introducing people to the virtual world.
“I chose Spice on Wilson because of the location and the amazing food,” said John McKee, founder of Virtual ATM LLC. “Try their fish tacos!”
For more information, email: [email protected]
The preceding post was written and sponsored by Virtual ATM LLC.
(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) The phrase “bank fees” used to describe a commonly-accepted practice. But in the past few months, rising fees have stoked consumer frustration. As a result, fed up customers have been abandoning big banks, and credit unions — including those located in Arlington — are reaping the rewards.
During the past year, and particularly the past two months, local credit unions have experienced rapid growth. Navy Federal Credit Union, for instance, experienced a 38 percent year-over-year jump in new members in October. Navy Federal has experienced a 23 percent increase in new customers in 2011, compared to its typical annual growth of 7 percent.
The 17,000 member Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, meanwhile, saw a 34 percent increase in new customers from September to October, in addition to a 100 percent increase in new online checking accounts during the same period.
(Disclosure: Arlington Community Federal Credit Union is an ARLnow.com advertiser.)
Although some banks have since rescinded new debit card fees and other banking charges, a grassroots movement toward credit unions and away from big banks seems to be taking hold. It even prompted the creation of Bank Transfer Day, which encouraged people to move their money to credit unions on November 5.
“People are expressing frustration over being treated like a number and not a member,” said Patty Briotta, public relations manager for the Clarendon-based National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU). “When some banks recalled their debit fees, it was too little, too late.”
Arlington Community Federal Credit Union CEO Brenda Turner said that in addition to accruing new applications, there has been an increase in customers who already held an account suddenly wanting to add another one.
“We could tell they were angry with the big banks because they wanted to move everything,” Turner said. “A lot of times people come in and just want an auto loan because we have great rates. But they wanted to completely clear out of the big banks and come over.”
Previously, many new members were attracted to credit unions due to features like competitive interest rates. Now, those who answered a NAFCU survey listed fees (24 percent) and general dissatisfaction (51 percent) as reasons for making the switch.
“During this challenging financial time, people want to leverage all of their resources and opportunities,” Briotta said. “You’re the boss at a credit union because it’s member-owned and a not-for-profit financial institution.”
Navy Federal Credit Union spokesperson Donovan Fox agreed, adding: “All of our members have a vote and everything that we do is for the benefit of our members. We’re always trying to increase our services, making them better for our members.”
NAFCU has recently ramped up promotion of CUlookup.com, a website it created to help consumers locate local credit unions. The site, which also lists the membership criteria of individual credit unions, has experienced explosive growth. This October saw a 700% year-over-year increase in web traffic this year, according to Briotta.
Although the rush will likely level off, right now Arlington’s credit unions are reveling in the business boom.
“It’s a great deal,” Turner said. “It’s unfortunate that it hasn’t been as widely known the convenience that credit unions offer.”
Said Briotta: “This is an example of Main Street winning over Wall Street.”