Bitcoin is increasingly becoming more accepted as a currency and as a way to pay for products and services.
And Bitcoin ATMs are making it easier to buy and sell Bitcoins or transfer funds from anywhere in the world.
What is a Bitcoin ATM
Bitcoin ATMs are similar to a regular bank ATM. Bitcoin ATMs are not connected to a bank, they are connected via the internet to a cryptocurrency exchange. They allow users to buy and sell Bitcoin using cash. (Do note that using cash to buy Bitcoin is not the same thing as “Bitcoin Cash” – which is the name of a digital coin.)
They look similar to a bank ATM with a monitor, QR scanner, and acceptors and dispensers for cash. Buying Bitcoin from an ATM makes it convenient to buy Bitcoin whenever you want.
Selling Bitcoin for cash is also a simple process and makes it convenient to get money when you need it. Users log in to their account, select the withdraw cash option, enter the amount of cash they want to withdraw, and send the Bitcoin to the wallet address.
This gives users a quick way to convert their cryptocurrency into cash. Not all Bitcoin ATMs have this option though. These types of ATMs are sometimes referred to as 2-ways kiosks because they can be used to both buy and sell cryptocurrency.
Some Bitcoin ATMs allow users to transfer or send money to others anywhere in the world where there is a cryptocurrency ATM. If a user wanted to send money to a friend, they would first send the cash equivalent in Bitcoin to their friend. Their friend would then sell the Bitcoin and receive the cash from the Bitcoin ATM.
Before using one of these cryptocurrency ATMs, users should have an account with the company that operates that particular ATM and become familiar with how to use it.
The History of Bitcoin ATMs
Bitcoin ATMs have come a long way from the very first Bitcoin ATM, which at the time, was called a Robocoin machine. Robocoin was the first company to install automatic teller machines for Bitcoin. The first one in the world was installed in Vancouver, Canada, in 2013.
With much fanfare, the first Robocoin ATM for Bitcoin opened in Austin, Texas, in 2015. Robocoin was the only manufacturer of Bitcoin ATMs in those days and expected to expand worldwide.
In 2015, Robocoin started facing cash flow problems and faced a lawsuit for failing to refund a customer. The customer, Adam O’Brien, president of Bitcoin Solutions, had never received their Robocoin machine and sued for a refund.
Facing numerous customer complaints, Robocoin never really got a foothold in the Bitcoin ATM business. Since then, other companies have taken their place, and Bitcoin ATMs are becoming as common as a bank ATM.
The Rise of Bitcoin ATMs
As of early 2021, Bitcoin is near record highs, and interest in cryptocurrencies has been described as a “mania.” This is also increasing the popularity of Bitcoin ATMs around the world.
In addition to the increased popularity of cryptocurrencies, the pandemic also brought awareness to Bitcoin ATMs. During the pandemic, many businesses wouldn’t accept cash for products and services.
Because of the fear of handling money that could pass the Covid-19 virus, contactless forms of payment like debit cards, credit cards, and in some cases Bitcoin, were the only way to pay.
Bitcoin ATMs make it possible to quickly turn cryptocurrency into money that can be deposited into a bank account or turn money into Bitcoin. The only thing a person needs, is their digital wallet to deposit the bitcoins into.
At the end of 2019, there were approximately 6,372 machines worldwide. As of April 2021, there are 17,827 Bitcoin ATM machines worldwide.
At the start of April 2021, the United States had the most Bitcoin ATMs with 15,431 machines, an increase of 250% over the previous year. In one month, October 2020, the United States added 800 machines. The top countries for Bitcoin ATMs as of April 2021 are:
Figures are changing so rapidly that it is hard to get an exact count of just how many Bitcoin ATMs there are in any given month.
While some countries have shown a constant increase, other countries like the United Kingdom have shown a decrease, possibly due to the pandemic. The United Kingdom peaked at 283 machines in February 2020, dropping to 199 by the end of the year. The latest figures show an increase again in early 2021.
In the United Kingdom, London and Birmingham have the highest concentration of Bitcoin ATMs. In Scotland, customers can find Bitcoin ATMs in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Dunfermline.
During the pandemic, when contactless payments became popular, customers found that Bitcoin ATMs are a great way to pay for products at businesses that accept cryptocurrency.
Customers can buy Bitcoins through these ATMs and transfer the cryptocurrency to their digital wallet. If a customer needs money in their bank account, they can sell their Bitcoin and deposit the money into their bank.
If someone needs to send money to a friend, they can accomplish that using a Bitcoin ATM, provided their friend also has a digital wallet. It might not be long before Bitcoin ATMs are as popular as bank ATMs.