Bitcoin ATM: a beginner’s guide

What is Bitcoin ATM

Ever wished for exchange to be as easy as using an ATM? Apparently, this is far from fiction: Bitcoin ATMs have been around for more than six years! This article will guide you through the basics of crypto ATMs and provide valuable tips on how to use and locate them efficiently.

Basically, Bitcoin ATM is exactly what it sounds like: a kiosk that allows the purchase of BTC with cash or bank card. 

The first-ever Bitcoin ATM called Robocoin appeared in Waves coffee shop in Vancouver, Canada back in October 2013. The first Bitcoin ATM in Europe was installed 2 months later in Bratislava, Slovakia. Just a couple of days ago, the total number of crypto ATMs worldwide surpassed 6000. They are spread across 75 countries, even though over 65% are located in the US, and offer the users an opportunity to instantly buy BTC for cash or debit, 24/7. 

How Bitcoin ATMs work

Unlike classic automated teller machines, Bitcoin ATMs connect the user directly to a Bitcoin exchange instead of a bank account. (Not to be confused with Bitcoin-enabled ATMs though! Those are just traditional ATMs that connect to the user’s bank account, allowing for cashless BTC purchase.) Some ATMs are bidirectional, meaning they allow both the purchase and sale of Bitcoins.

A remarkable feature of some Bitcoin ATMs in that the operations are completely anonymous. In the past few years, anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations have become quite strict. This means that banks, digital currency processors, peer-to-peer payment platforms – and virtually all other existing payment systems – are required to verify identities of all their users in order to comply with the regulations and avoid fines. Some Bitcoin ATMs, which we are going to discuss in detail further on, are currently not in that league. No KYC/AML is required, meaning they provide a good way of securing your identity and privacy.

However, as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Privacy comes with a price, which in the case of some Bitcoin ATMs is the 7-10% fee for both buying and selling bitcoins. Whether or not it’s worth it is a matter of personal preference and circumstances.

Another great advantage of Bitcoin ATMs is speed: it is one of the fastest ways to buy crypto. As opposed to online cryptocurrency exchanges, which are slow and sometimes tricky in terms of the user interface, with Bitcoin ATMs, it usually takes about a minute to conduct an operation, and all you have to do is follow the instruction from the machine. It is also a great solution for people who do not own a bank account or do not wish to be associated with a certain bank.

How to use Bitcoin ATM

The basic procedure for the purchase of bitcoins using an ATM is as follows:

It is worth mentioning that, when selling bitcoins using a two-way ATM, the algorithm is quite similar: enter the amount you want to sell; indicate the bitcoin address to retrieve the sum from; after that cash will be dispensed.

Best Bitcoin ATMs

Produced by Genesis Coin Inc., a company based in San Diego, California, USA. This is an example of a Bitcoin ATM producer that actually complies with KYC/AML regulations: the machine supports fingerprint scanner, SMS verification, identification card reader and a high-resolution camera. This is two-way ATM, meaning both the purchase and sale of crypto is possible. An interesting feature of these is that they support three cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin. The fee for software usage is just 1% of the transaction volume.

This is a smaller version of the Genesis1 model with a larger screen. It is a one-way machine that only supports Bitcoin purchase. The model is compliant with KYC/AML.

Overall similar to Satoshi1, but supports two-way bitcoin transactions: selling BTC for cash is possible. KYC/AML compliance.

Lamassu is the third-largest Bitcoin ATM manufacturer with headquarters in Luzern, Switzerland (total number of ATMs installed is 501). This producer offers a completely decentralized model, utilizes open-source software and renders the operator fully in charge of the machine. Their machines possess a recognizable design and offer both one-way and two-way Bitcoin exchange.

Produced by GeneralBytes, a Czech company that currently dominates the Bitcoin ATM market with more than 1900 machines installed around the world. The machine is based on Android technology and supports one-way operations, remote management and requires user identification.

Much like BATM2, but supports two-way operations and point of sale terminal (POS) functionality.

Manufactured by a German company Global Funds Transfer (GFT) GmbH, this machine works both as a two-way Bitcoin ATM and a point of sale terminal (POS). The crypto can be either transferred to an existing wallet address, or to a QR voucher that you can use after registration on Bitxatm portal.

Remember the first-ever Bitcoin ATM that was installed in Vancouver? It was Robocoin. Even though they are not produced any more since 2015, some of them can still be found locally, but those are powered by General Bytes software. They are also equipped with all the necessary AML/KYC safety features.

How To Locate A Bitcoin ATM Near me

Coin ATM Radar is a simple and easy-to-use service that provides a constantly updated global ATMs map. Wherever in the world you are, there is a good chance to locate a Bitcoin ATM nearby!

Apart from providing the global map and locating the machines near you, the service also provides a complete set of details about the localized machines and generates directions from your current location to the whereabouts of the ATM. 

In order to try it out:

Buy/Sell Bitcoin Using ATMs

The process of buying/selling crypto can vary slightly depending on the ATM, so here is a quick guide for the most popular models out there.

Buying Bitcoins:

Selling Bitcoins:

Buying Bitcoins:

Buying Bitcoins:

Bitcoin Machine regulations

9 years since Bitcoin’s inception, the regulations concerning its use are still quite vague and region-dependent. In the US, bitcoin ATMs are regulated on federal and state levels, aiming to prevent money laundering and other financial crimes. Describing regulatory aspects is worth another article, but they are important mostly to provisional Bitcoin ATM operators who want to incorporate them into their business.

Where to Store Bitcoins

Right; you have successfully purchased bitcoins using a Bitcoin ATM. A good follow-up idea is to ensure the safety of your assets by choosing a secure cryptocurrency wallet. Atomic Wallet allows you to secure, manage and exchange more than 300 in the most intuitive and user-friendly way; it is available for all major operating systems, as well as iOS and Android. Some of its best features are exceptional security, instant exchange, complete decentralization and anonymity, 24/7 live support and smooth, handy interface. Check it out!

Conclusion

Overall, using Bitcoin ATMs is a quick way to buy or sell crypto, provided there is one nearby. If anonymity is important, it is always worth checking whether the machine near you complies with AML/KYC regulations. As the number of ATMs worldwide is growing steadily, it is sure going to be interesting to track its progress in complying with government regulations while keeping true to the principles of privacy and decentralization. Stay tuned!