Crypto ATMs have been around since 2013 and while their initial integration was slow, just 7 years later there are over 30,500 Bitcoin ATMs around the world. Providing a convenient means of buying and selling the world’s biggest digital currency, here we explore how crypto ATMs can propel crypto adoption.
Cryptocurrencies have come a long way since the advent of Bitcoin in 2009, and with each passing year more firmly establish themselves in the traditional financial landscape. Bitcoin ATMs are here to support this drive and further establish the digital currency in everyday lives, around the world. And not just Bitcoin ATMs, there are also a number of other cryptocurrencies supported which we’ll cover in more detail below.
History of Bitcoin ATMs
The first Bitcoin ATM launched in October 2013 in a coffee shop in Vancouver, Canada. The coffee shop was one of roughly 20 in the area that accepted the digital currency at the time. Created by an American company Robocoin (which later closed in 2015) and a Vancouver-based company called Bitcoiniacs, the ATM used palm scans to authenticate users and allow for a maximum trade of $3,000 worth of Bitcoin a day.
A month and a half later, another Bitcoin was installed in Bratislava, Slovakia, becoming Europe’s first Bitcoin ATM. A few months after that, Bitcoin ATMs started popping up in the United States, and adoption steadily increased. By 2015, there were a total of 329 crypto ATMs around the world, 500 in 2016, which doubled to 1,000 by 2017.
The number of crypto ATMs continued to double each year, reaching a total of 6,400 in early 2020. At the start of 2021, there were just under 14,000 of these machines around the world, increasing quickly to over 30,000 by the end of the year. It’s safe to conclude that the power of crypto ATMs has been recognised, and continues to grow as adoption heads in the same direction.
Crypto ATMs vs traditional ATMs
The most significant differences between the two are that the traditional ATMs are operated by a bank while crypto ATMs are connected to the relevant blockchain via the operator, these two can both accept and dispense cash.
From a regulatory standpoint, crypto ATMs need to follow the AML/KYC (anti-money laundering and know your customer) regulations outlined by the jurisdiction they are operating in. This will also affect the limits of both deposits and withdrawals allowed by the machine, and in some regions, the ATM will also require a money transmitter licence.
The downside to crypto ATMs is the fees. Fees can range from 7% - 25% depending on the operator, the location and the trade. While they allow for quick and easy purchase or sale of various cryptocurrencies with fewer KYC verifications necessary than on a traditional exchange, this does come at a price. However, the crypto ATMs also allow users to tap into the relevant network who might not otherwise have access to an online exchange or bank account.
Of the over 30,500 crypto ATMs around the world, the following cryptocurrencies are currently supported:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Lightning BTC (LBTC)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Dash (DASH)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Zcash (ZEC)
- Monero (XMR)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Tether (USDT)
- Ripple (XRP)
How crypto ATMs are fueling adoption
These decentralized crypto ATMs have seen a huge growth in popularity over the last 5 years, allowing users to easily exchange one fiat currency for a digital one. Providing an easy means of transaction in over 75 countries, crypto ATMs are facilitating a seamless means in which to travel - instead of exchanging one fiat for another, simply withdrawal the fiat at a crypto ATM on arrival.
While crypto ATMs and adoption go hand in hand, it might lend closer to a chicken/egg conversation (which came first) as both operations are fueled by the other. With more crypto ATMs, more people can gain access to the peer-to-peer based payment system thus increasing adoption, while growing adoption creates more of a demand for crypto ATMs.
In the coming years, we will more than likely see the continued growth of crypto ATMs around the world, alongside a similar growth in crypto adoption as the digital currencies become more integrated into the financial sector and our daily lives.
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