How Does a Bitcoin ATM Work?

Coin Cloud
4 min readJan 22, 2021

How to Buy and Sell Crypto with Cash Using a Bitcoin ATM

The first time you see a Bitcoin ATM, you may wonder what exactly it is, and more importantly, how it works.

Just hearing the name “Bitcoin ATM” might make you think that it connects to your bank account, like an ATM … and, come to think of it, like an online digital currency exchange.

But, nope … it doesn’t. You don’t need to give up your banking info to use a Bitcoin ATM (or BTM for short).

Most BTMs let you buy bitcoin with cash. That goes for more than 5500 machines in the U.S., which accounts for almost 78%. The other 22%, or 1580 machines, will let you both buy and sell (that includes all Coin Clouds, which make up 55% of that small slice).

(Data supplied by Coin ATM Radar)

So … let’s assume that you want the option to either buy or sell your cryptocurrency. With the majority of two-way machines being Coin Clouds, chances are that’s what you’ll be using.

The fastest way to find the closest one to you is to use the Coin Cloud locator map.

How it Works (Nutshell Version)

This is how the Bitcoin ATM works in a nutshell … we’ll expand on it in a minute!

Buy bitcoin with cash

To buy bitcoin, or a choice of 30 altcoins, you will be inserting cash into the Coin Cloud (as little as $1) and receiving your virtual currency to your digital mobile wallet. We recommend the Coin Cloud Wallet app for the most seamless experience.

Sell bitcoin for cash

To sell bitcoin, you will be transferring your digital currency from your mobile wallet and receiving cash from the Coin Cloud.

Definitely use the Coin Cloud Wallet app for selling, because you can save time, avoid manually entering a bunch of numbers, and reserve cash for 48 hours at your closest machine. It will also let you know if the BTM doesn’t have enough cash, so you don’t waste time going there and can choose another instead.

How it Works (Step by Step)

Here’s how the Bitcoin ATM works, step by step, so you know exactly what will happen when you get to the machine.

Buy bitcoin with cash

  1. Press the “Start” button on the screen and accept the terms
  2. Enter your mobile phone number
  3. Enter the unique identifier code texted to your phone
  4. Select the “Buy” option
  5. Scan your digital wallet’s QR code with the BTM camera
  6. Insert your bills one at a time
  7. Once you have inserted your cash, press the “I’m done” button
  8. Your transaction will begin processing on the Bitcoin network
  9. Transactions can take approximately 10–15 minutes to process
  10. Once the transaction has fully processed you will receive your receipt via text message, and the funds will show in your wallet

Sell bitcoin for cash

  1. Press the “Start” button
  2. Enter your mobile phone number
  3. Enter the unique identifier code texted to your phone
  4. Select the “Sell” option
  5. Select the “BTM” option
  6. Enter the amount you wish to withdraw, in denominations of $20 and $100 (if you use the Coin Cloud Wallet app, you can do all this in advance from your phone)
  7. Scan the QR code that appears on the BTM screen with the camera function on your mobile wallet app
  8. On your Bitcoin wallet, enter the EXACT amount the BTM is requesting (the Coin Cloud Wallet app does this for you)
  9. Send the funds to the QR code you scanned
  10. Transactions take approximately 10–15 minutes to process on the Bitcoin network
  11. Once the transaction has fully processed, you will receive a text message informing you to return to the BTM to withdraw your funds (if you use the Coin Cloud Wallet app to set up your sell, the cash will be ready when you arrive)
  12. At the BTM, log in with your phone number once again to retrieve the dispensed cash

And that’s it! Bitcoin ATMs are the easiest and fastest way to buy and sell digital currency, including bitcoin, and Coin Clouds give you the most options with the largest network of machines!

What is Coin Cloud?

Coin Cloud is a digital currency machine company headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. With over 1,300 locations nationwide, Coin Clouds are the world’s largest and fastest-growing network of two-way digital currency kiosks, commonly known as Bitcoin ATMs or BTMs, and the majority of all two-way machines in the U.S. Since 2014, Coin Cloud has helped hundreds of thousands of customers buy and sell cryptocurrency and other virtual currency quickly and easily. You can find your nearest Coin Cloud here.



Coin Cloud

The world’s leading operator of two-way Digital Currency Machines (DCMs), more advanced Bitcoin ATMs.