Whether you’re passionate about cryptocurrency or not, there’s a very good chance you’ve at least heard of Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency to date. So much so, that a lot of businesses and services have also started accepting Bitcoins (and other cryptocurrencies in general) as a payment option.
In light of its ever-growing popularity and widespread use, there are now Bitcoin ATMs allowing anyone to buy and, in some cases, even sell Bitcoins in mere minutes. In this basic guide, we will shed some light on what a Bitcoin ATM is, how to use and how to locate one in your vicinity.
What’s a Bitcoin ATM?
A Bitcoin ATM, also referred to as a Bitcoin kiosk, is a machine that has Bitcoins for sale, allowing users to exchange Bitcoin for Fiat or vice versa, even though, the large majority of ATMs only offer support for buying Bitcoin.
Advantages and disadvantages of using a Bitcoin ATM
There’s a broad range of Bitcoin ATMs available on the market. Some of the most widely found Bitcoin ATMs come from producers such as General Bytes, Lamassu, BitAccess, BitXatm, and Skyhook. Due to this manufacturer diversity, the exchange process may vary, however, all Bitcoin ATMs have the same advantages over other methods of purchasing and selling Bitcoin.
For starters, ATMs offer more privacy than official exchanges. Secondly, there’s the overall convenience. Even though Bitcoin ATMs are nothing like their Fiat counterparts in most regards, the process is still very novice-accessible, making the buying procedure easy for first-time buyers.
The biggest drawback of Bitcoins ATMs is represented by the exchange charge which usually revolves around a 5-10% fee per purchase, much more expensive than using various web services (Coinbase, and CoinJar, for example). Then there’s also the issues of cash availability of these machines and the no-refunds nature of all transactions. That said, closely checking or even double-checking that your wallet address is correct since all transactions made with Bitcoin ATMs are irreversible.
Finding a local Bitcoin ATM in your vicinity
In order to locate a Bitcoin ATM near you, you’ll want to turn to the Internet and employ the services of Coin ATM Radar, a useful online tool that provides you with lists and maps with Bitcoin ATMs from all over the world.
Using a Bitcoin ATM
As mentioned before, the steps for using Bitcoin ATMs will vary depending on the machine’s manufacturer. The basic process is as follows: a user walks up to a machine and interacts with a screen in order to either deposit or withdrawal currency.
The general process to buying Bitcoins using these specialized ATMs involves going through various verification steps, entering the Bitcoin address for deposit (wallet address), inserting the cash into the ATM, and confirming the operation.
A more in-depth look on the procedure might look something like this: open the QR code from your wallet on your smartphone. Scan the QR Code using the ATM’s scanner, enter the amount of cash to be exchanged, and check your wallet afterwards to see if the transaction is processed.
When you want to sell Bitcoins for cash, the procedure is somewhat similar, although, it’s worth noting that the operator may require you to identify yourself. For instance, you may be asked to enter your phone number in order to receive a verification code, as well as possibly scan your ID.
Using a Bitcoin ATM is probably the easiest way of exchanging Fiat currency for Bitcoins, allowing more and more users to hop aboard the cryptocurrency hype bandwagon. The advantages Bitcoin ATMs offer are quite substantial: accessibility, enhanced privacy, and speed.
However, one must also be aware of the few drawbacks that these machines have: potentially low availability and higher fees when compared to online exchange services.