The Purpose of Bitcoin ATMs and How to Use Them
No doubt by now you’ve heard of Bitcoin, and maybe other terms from the industry: cryptocurrency, digital currency, blockchain, digital wallets and exchanges.
But one of the biggest (literally) developments in the crypto space is the Bitcoin ATM. What exactly are these metal machines, and how do they work?
What are Bitcoin ATMs?
You’ll hear them referred to by several names: Bitcoin ATMs, BTMs, Digital Currency Kiosks, Cryptocurrency Machines and more. But they all mean basically the same thing.
A Bitcoin ATM is a machine, similar to a banking ATM, where you can deposit and/or withdraw cash. But instead of connecting to your bank account, a BTM works with your mobile crypto wallet. You either buy or sell Bitcoin (or other digital currencies) with the cash.
The very first Bitcoin ATM was installed in a coffee shop in Vancouver, Canada, in 2013. This original BTM was made by Robocoin, who also made the very first Coin Cloud Bitcoin ATMs when they launched on the Las Vegas Strip in 2014. Since then, Coin Cloud BTMs have evolved to become smaller and sleeker, and are now manufactured inhouse.
Hardware vs Software
The hardware for a Bitcoin ATM is similar across the board. BTMs have a monitor, QR code scanner, and depending on the type, bill acceptor and/or dispenser. Some also have a thermal printer for paper wallets and receipts.
The software, which controls the back end and allows the transaction to occur, will differ based on the BTM company. But it always aims to make the process quick, easy and secure. It guides you step by step through how to buy digital currency with cash, or how to sell your crypto and withdraw cash.
Types of Bitcoin ATMs
There are basically three types of BTMs; those that allow you to buy crypto with cash, those that allow you sell your crypto for cash (or “cash out”) and those that do both.
According to Coin ATM Radar, almost 70% of BTMs are unidirectional.