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You can buy bitcoins here, for real

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The ATM at Boston’s South Station snatched the money from my hand and didn’t even give me a receipt. But my smartphone’s green glow let me know I had just invested $5 in the world’s most controversial, questionable, and exciting new currency — Bitcoin.

The machine, which is the first of its kind in Boston, was officially plugged in Wednesday morning — right next to Pinkberry — and began spewing bitcoins, virtually.

“You can think of it as Internet cash,” said Chris Yim, cofounder of Liberty Teller, the Boston company that operates the new Bitcoin ATM. “This is just a more secure way of buying things online.”

It is also confusing to many. That’s why a Google search turns up such posts as “How to explain Bitcoin to your grandmother” and “What the heck is a bitcoin?”

The five-year-old currency is not backed by any central government, but can be spent just like dollars in a small but increasing number of places, including some local restaurants and the popular online retailer Overstock.com.

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