According to a report on Statista, there are now over 7,000 bitcoin ATMs all over the world (as of March 2020). In comparison to a report made in June 2019 by Cointelegraph, which stated that there were more than 5,000, it’s clear that the demand for these ATMs is rising.

But what is a bitcoin ATM? Well, it pretty much works the same way as traditional ATMs—you put a credit or debit card in the machine and then receive cash. However, the difference is that it allows you to withdraw BTC.

Types of bitcoin ATM

There are three main types of bitcoin ATMs: (1) ATMs that convert your BTC into fiat currencies, (2) ones which you can buy BTC from, and (3) rare ATMs that allow you to do both. There are even ATMs that accept bitcoin debit cards, allowing you to withdraw cash. This is especially useful if you’re traveling in a foreign country.

Depending on where you live and how many bitcoin ATMs there are in your area, these nifty machines make it easy to buy and sell BTC—eliminating several steps in the process. For example, although the number of businesses accepting bitcoin is increasing, it can be a little difficult for people to spend their BTC easily on a day-to-day basis. To use their BTC, people will have to hop onto an exchange, sell their BTC, withdraw the money into a bank account, and only then will they be able to spend it. 

With the availability of these ATMs, a few of those steps are eliminated. Essentially, these act as physical bitcoin exchanges.

How to use a bitcoin ATM

On these machines, the price of BTC is dependent on the current exchange rate. However, ATMs also charge a fee for their services. On average, a bitcoin ATM charges 8-10%—which is a little high for most people. Despite 8-10% being the average, costs often vary per machine (it can go higher and lower), so make sure to read the instructions of the ATM before using it.

When a person withdraws from a bitcoin ATM, BTC is dispensed to the user’s bitcoin wallet via a QR code, or it’s dispensed to a paper wallet that some ATMs can generate. In most cases nowadays, machines will also require users to provide identification for KYC purposes, so be sure to have a form of identification ready.

Buying bitcoin

Although the process varies per ATM, there is a general flow to using one to purchase BTC:

First, choose the option to buy BTC (only applicable to ones that offer both buying and selling services). Then, scan the QR code of your wallet address using the bitcoin ATM scanner. Enter the amount you wish to buy, then insert the cash. Give the machine a few minutes to process the transaction. Once you’ve done all that, check your bitcoin wallet to confirm the sale—and voila! It’s that easy.

Selling bitcoin

Selling BTC using an ATM, on the other hand, becomes more of a case-to-case basis. It depends on what machine you’re using and the system it uses. If there’s a specific brand of ATM nearby, make sure to do your research about it first before selling.

Luckily, these machines are very intuitive—follow the instructions displayed on the screens, and you should be fine.

Coin ATM Radar can help you find bitcoin ATM locations, as well as provide details (such as information about fees, limits, buy only, sell only, buy/sell) and give you directions.

Bitcoin ATM—a rising technology around the world

With cryptocurrency adoption rising, bitcoin ATMs are starting to offer more opportunities for people who need it.

An excellent example of this comes from Paxful’s recent partnership with CoinLogiq, a blockchain company based in Medellín. Through the partnership, the people of Columbia now have access to 20 brand new crypto ATMs. With these machines, Columbians can buy and sell crypto in a fast, secure, and straightforward manner. Users will also be able to send and receive crypto through the ATMs. Additionally, these tools will allow users access to the Paxful kiosk, where they can buy BTC using the 300+ payment methods available (bitcoin ATM included) on the peer-to-peer marketplace. The brand-new ATMs brought to Columbia are available in popular shopping centers and points of interest, allowing even more access to the people.

The first-ever bitcoin ATM was opened in October 2019. With over 7,000 machines now all over the world, it’s easy to see the practicality that they bring to the table. Although the density of these ATMs is dispersed, it’s only a matter of time before other countries start seeing the benefits, as well as the opportunities, that come alongside them.

With the world experiencing growth in crypto adoption (more businesses accepting it as payment, governments starting to regulate and come up with their own crypto, etc.), we’ll probably be seeing more of these ATMs sprouting up soon.