Within weeks of Nasreen Mohsin moving to Vancouver in September to start a master’s of engineering at Simon Fraser University, one of her friends back home in India had an emergency. Mohsin won’t divulge the specifics, but her friend needed 6,000 rupees, or about $120—and fast.
One option was to use a traditional money-transfer service, like Western Union, but her friend recommended they make the transfer via Bitcoin. Not only would it be fast, but the fees would be next to nothing.
Bitcoin is a global currency that only exists digitally. Who prints it? Nobody. What’s the central authority or bank that controls it? There isn’t one. For the layperson, Bitcoin is useful as a way to transfer money from point A to point B—so long as both places have access to the Internet—with no need to go through a bank and, therefore, incurring virtually no transaction fees.
Fortunately for Mohsin, getting her hands on the digital currency was extremely convenient. “The nearest [Bitcoin] ATM was at SFU,” Mohsin says.
In May, Simon Fraser became the first Canadian