Bitcoin ATM: Accessing Crypto in the Physical World

Bitcoin ATM is an automated ATM (automated teller machine or cash point) that allows the user to buy and sell bitcoins.

What is a Bitcoin ATM?

Bitcoin ATMs function similarly to regular ATMs – but instead of showing their bank account details, users are offered a range of Bitcoin exchange options for cash. ATMs that offer only purchase options are called unidirectional, while those that offer both purchase and sale options are called bi-directional. BTMs are different from regular ATMs. Most importantly, they do not connect to the user’s bank or banking network. The first bitcoin ATM is believed to have been opened in 2013 at a coffee shop in Vancouver, Canada.

As of 2023, there were up to 2,500 BTMs in the U.S. alone. They are most commonly found in transportation hubs, such as airports and train stations, as well as specialty stores and coffee shops.

To install an BTM on a business premises, the owner needs to contract with an BTM provider, who produces and, if necessary, installs the device on site. The number of BTM providers is growing, and most of the world is now fairly well served. While bitcoin ATMs are growing in popularity, they have been criticized for their high transaction fees. The U.S. Office of Consumer Financial Protection has issued an official warning to consumers about fees and exchange rates. Meanwhile, in other jurisdictions, including Canada and the United Kingdom, bitcoin ATM operators have been the target of tax investigations.

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