Hail to the Bitcoin ATMs – Rise of a revolution

Cryptocurrencies have come a long way. 

Bitcoin, the very first virtual token based on blockchain technology, was launched in 2009. Since then thousands of different types of digital coins have been introduced and circulate the virtual asset world (Ethereum, EOS, Cardano, and Ampersandcoin, to name a few). It has grown into a solid field that is reaching more and more people and businesses all across the globe. As of September 1, 2020, the aggregate value of all the cryptocurrencies was almost $390 billion. Enough to pay off the external debt of Indonesia!

Today, it is clear that cryptocurrencies are here to stay. The race to see who will be the ones to lead the way and who will lag behind has already started. We can rank cities taking into account the following indicators: such as 

  1. the number of merchants and venues that accept bitcoins
  2. the number of crypto ATMs available, and
  3. the relative size of the population. 

As of the beginning of this year, cities like San Francisco, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Ljubljana, Tel Aviv, Zurich, Tampa, Buenos Aires, New York and London are clearly ahead. However, the tables can turn easily by next year because other regions like Cyprus, Malta or Zimbabwe are showing very promising trends.

Proof of the inexorable growth in the use of cryptocurrencies is their spread into one of the most popular industries ever; football (or soccer). As of summer 2020, several leading football teams, such as FC Barcelona, had launched their own virtual tokens to raise money. No surprise. This is an extremely helpful measure in the times of crisis caused by Covid-19. It not only helps the clubs to survive difficult times, but also brings fans and followers closer to their teams.

One caveat, though. If you too feel enthusiastic about cryptocurrencies and want to be part of their rampant success, just remember to keep alert. As in any field connected to money and finances, you have to be careful and attentive. If you want to be safe, always use the services of trustworthy and recognized companies only. 

Furthermore, we recommend you to be very careful about scams and learn how to avoid them, because there are many schemes that swindlers use trying to coax users into giving them their cryptocurrency.

Crypto ATMs

Crypto ATMs, or Bitcoin ATMs that can be used as a generic term and synonym due to the fact that Bitcoin (BTC) is the most widely supported crypto, have also experienced an upward trend. It has been in close correlation with the virtual assets market. More and more users discover that Bitcoin ATMs are extremely convenient and fast for virtual asset trading, therefore overtaking online exchanges as a preference for many.

The first cryptocurrency machine was installed in Vancouver, Canada back in 2013, and it has been an unstoppable worldwide spread ever since. Currently, an average of 14.9 crypto ATMs are installed all across the globe every day. As of September 1, 2020, there were already 9,251 Bitcoin ATMs in the world (Statista), spread over 70 countries. 

As it can be seen from the evolution of the global ATM installations and their geographical distribution, the numbers of ATMs have first and foremost been skyrocketing in Northern America. Currently, almost 85% of the ATM machines are located there. Europe is still far behind with just over a 1,000 ATMs which represents slightly under 13%. However, there has still been a more or less steady trend towards continuous growth.

It is indisputable: the United States is the unmistakable leader in the Bitcoin ATM ranking. Canada comes second, but far behind per total amount. Still, Europe is not giving up without a fight. Of the countries that follow in the ranking, are all in the large majority Europeans: the UK, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic, etc. What’s more, if we look at the number of ATMs per capita, then it is quite clear that Europe is not doing a bad job at all, because 15 out of the top 20 countries are all European.

When it comes to the variety of crypto ATMs out there, there are many providers, some of whom are building up quite a reputation. Broadly speaking, though, there are two types of crypto teller machines. The more basic one allows you to buy bitcoins or other virtual assets. With the more complex one, bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies can be bought or also sold for cash.

From the user’s point of view

Using a crypto ATM is extremely simple. Just as a regular ATM, it is a dedicated device that can be found at a fixed address during established business hours. That means that the customers can use it independently, without any previous agreements with an agent. It is also a tangible, physical terminal that offers a swift and smooth experience, especially for new users.

At the same time, all ATM transactions are completely secure. Operations require user authentication which, nevertheless, from the customer’s point of view can be done easily with just one SMS.

The transaction is usually immediate. Customers who purchase bitcoins will instantly receive the virtual currency in their wallets. But not always. It still sometimes happens that transactions can take longer than usual. This can be caused by congestion in the network because when blockchain technology was designed, the size of the blocks was limited to 1 MB to avoid possible scams. As the number of transactions has grown substantially throughout the years, there can be occasional delays.

What does that mean for the user? Usually it is just necessary to wait for a couple of minutes, sometimes maybe up to 20, and the problem will get solved by itself. If it doesn’t, though, contacting the ATM operator’s customer support leads to a fairly swift and easy solution where they just cancel the transaction and refund you. The crucial point here is, due to blockchain technology, everything is public and transparent, so there is no room for theft from reputable companies.

From the operator’s point of view

It is interesting and rather pragmatic for a crypto ATM user to know what goes on behind the scenes. Let’s have a look at what an ATM operator has to bear in mind when installing new or managing the existing cryptocurrency machines.

Bitcoin ATMs have been under scrutiny for quite some time, suffering from bad reputation and stigma because of shady business activity and money laundering. In reality, thanks to all the compliance requirements that apply, crypto teller machines are extremely secure.

At the end of the day, if you are not fully compliant and duly authorized, you get closed off. The most recent example of this is the widespread operation carried out in Germany. During my interview with GloCurEx CEO, he explains how:

 “In such a bleeding edge industry, if you’re not fully armed with legal and compliance, you’ll have authorities knocking on your door in no time. Compliance is a critical factor both to protect your clients and your company!”.

Jonathan Caruana, CEO, GloCurEx

It is clear that operators have to keep extremely up to date with the latest legislative developments. Not only do they have to comply with all the laws and regulations that apply in the country or state of their location, but also anywhere they have their ATMs installed. 

It used to be more flexible in the past, but now more and more countries and states require that ATMs register as financial service providers. Hence, all the correspondent regulations apply. All operators are obliged to implement an anti-money laundering program (AML), and to audit it regularly. Similarly, ATM operators have to make sure that the transactions are legal and come from reliable sources. Therefore, it is required that they verify the users and implement an established system, called KYC or know your customer, to monitor that all cryptocurrency trade is safe and legit.

In Europe, for example, the latest Anti-Money Laundering Directive that had to be passed into national legislations by January 20, 2020, makes the use of crypto ATMs safer than ever. It also helps the cryptocurrency companies play a bigger role in the fight against money laundering, terrorism and other criminal activities.

So you can rest assured, that if you are using a Bitcoin ATM from a reputable company, your money is safe and sound.  Now is the time to invest in the world’s biggest innovation where money and digital age is concerned!