Adam O’Brien only had two options for buying Bitcoin in 2013, both of which involved brushing up against what felt like a digital underworld.
“I [had to either] meet a guy in a back alley or wire money to Russia,” O’Brien says. “Finally, I met a guy in a back alley and bought Bitcoin. I give him 100 bucks, he gives me a Bitcoin — and then bolts.”
Despite being initially put off by the experience, O’Brien also sensed an opportunity to make the Bitcoin exchange more legitimate and less complicated. Burgeoned by his belief in Bitcoin and a salesman’s instinct inherited from his father (“When I was young, I used to sell all of his stuff when he would leave [for work],” he laughs), O’Brien spent the next four years buying and selling Bitcoin in coffee shops across Edmonton, no alleyways necessary.
O’Brien also launched Alberta’s first Bitcoin ATM in 2014, with his operation growing from a one-person effort to the 60-person company it is today. Bitcoin Well now operates 160 ATMs nationwide and is the first ever publicly traded Bitcoin ATM company.
“The work that we do at Bitcoin Well is but a piece that will eventually propel Bitcoin to what it can be,” O’Brien says. “Bitcoin is and will change the way we think about money, which means it’s going to save lives… Bitcoin takes power and puts it into the hands of individuals.”