There Are Now More Than 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs Around The World (#GotBitcoin?)
The total number of bitcoin ATMs (BTMs) worldwide reached 5,000 for the first time, monitoring resource CoinATMRadar confirmed on June 24. There Are Now More Than 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs Around The World (#GotBitcoin?)
According to the latest statistics, there are now 5,006 standalone BTMs in around 90 countries, where cryptocurrency users can buy or sell bitcoin (BTC). Some machines offer both services simultaneously.
The data caps a protracted period of growth in the BTM sector, with the U.S. leading the trend as more and more locations and formats appear.
June has seen a total of 150 installations, around 6 per day. General Bytes recently overtook Genesis Coin as the manufacturer with the largest number of BTMs installed.
As Cointelegraph reported, in 2019, it is not just the ‘classic’ BTM model which is expanding, but other methods of procuring BTC. A deal earlier in the year involving coin counting kiosk operator Coinstar brought bitcoin functionality to over 2,200 U.S. locations.
The U.S. currently has more than half of the world’s BTMs at 3,229, with a new pilot scheme this month bringing the machines to Circle K convenience stores in Arizona and Nevada.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with a respected organization like Circle K,” Marc Grens, president and co-founder of cryptocurrency provider DigitalMint said in a press release issued June 20.
“This partnership opens the door for massive expansion of Bitcoin access to new markets around the globe.”
Increasing competition in the BTM market is likely to reduce the fees charged to users, which tend to be noticeably higher than online alternatives.
Other in-person options, such as buying vouchers, are also gaining popularity with users keen on avoiding burdensome identity requirements.
Bitcoin ATMs Worldwide Hit New Milestone, Surpassing 6,000
The number of Bitcoin (BTC) ATMs installed worldwide has now surpassed a new milestone surpassing 6,000.
Online resource CoinATMRadar shows that there are currently 6,004 machines installed worldwide, over 65% of which are in the United States.
The United States Dwarfs Other Countries In Bitcoin ATMs
Furthermore, 108 machines have been deployed this month and data also shows that the average daily number of Bitcoin ATMs installed is 11 — the fastest pace this year.
Over three-quarters of the machines installed worldwide are in North America, nearly 20% in Europe and only 2% in Asia. The U.S. is home to 3,924 ATMs, Canada has 653, while the next countries in the top-four are the United Kingdom and Austria with 272 and 189, respectively.
1,000 New Machines Deployed Since June
The total number worldwide increased by about 1,000 since June, showing that the industry is seeing significant growth. Bitcoin ATMs, sometimes referred to as BTMs, allow users to buy BTC, while over 35% of machines also have two-way capabilities enabling sell crypto for cash.
In mid-October, one such machine was installed by BTM firm Bitstop at the Miami International Airport. The company’s co-founder and chief strategy officer Doug Carillo claimed that explained that Bitcoin is useful for travelers:
“More and more people prefer to travel with Bitcoin instead of cash for convenience and security. Miami International Airport is a perfect place for our customers to conveniently exchange their dollars for Bitcoin and vice versa when traveling domestically or abroad.”
Still, not everyone seems happy about the growth in the popularity of Bitcoin ATMs, particularly in the United States.
As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Chief John Fort said that the regulator is wary of the potential tax issues caused by Bitcoin ATMs and kiosks.
“They’re required to abide by the same Know-Your-Customer, Anti-Money Laundering regulations, and we believe some have varying levels of adherence to those regulations,” said Fort.
Bitcoin ATM Firm Partners With Largest Shopping Mall Operator In US
Miami-based Bitcoin (BTC) automatic teller machines (ATM) firm Bitstop has partnered with the largest shopping mall operator in the United States, Simon Malls, to install Bitcoin ATMs at several locations.
BitStop announced on Nov. 26 that the firm has already installed Bitcoin ATMs at five Simon Malls locations in California, Florida and Georgia. Bitstop co-founder and CEO Andrew Barnard said that the machines were installed ahead of the holiday season:
“With the strategic timing of this new installation of Bitcoin ATMs at Simon Mall locations, customers can conveniently buy Bitcoin while doing their Black Friday and Christmas holiday shopping.”
Bitsop, which claims to be licensed and regulated, plans to grow its teller machine network by over 500 locations by the end of 2020, according to Barnard.
The new partnership builds on the firm’s previous installation of a Bitcoin ATM at the Miami International Airport, which it announced in mid-October.
Global Bitcoin ATM Network Grows
As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, the number of Bitcoin ATMs installed worldwide surpassed a new milestone. Data at the time showed that there were over 6,000 such machines worldwide, over 65% of which are in the United States.
Still, authorities are increasingly wary of such services. The United States Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Chief John Fort, for instance, recently said that the regulator is looking into potential tax issues caused by Bitcoin ATMs and kiosks.
In addition to possible tax issues, Fort claimed that the operators of crypto kiosks should be obliged to follow the same Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering rules as other cryptocurrency-related businesses.
There Are Now Over 7,000 Cryptocurrency ATMs Worldwide
The number of crypto ATMs across the globe has grown to over 7,000, with machines in 75 countries.
At press time, CoinATMRadar listed 7,014 cryptocurrency ATMs in existence. This number also includes machines hosting digital currencies other than Bitcoin (BTC), including assets such as Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ether (ETH), Dash (DASH) and Litecoin (LTC).
Crypto ATMs Have Come A Long Way
The world saw its first Bitcoin ATM in 2013, when a company called Robocoin placed a machine in a Vancouver coffee shop. Allowing customers to trade Bitcoin for cash, and vice versa, the machine saw $10,000 in BTC transacted on its launch day.
At present, 42 different manufacturers are responsible for the 7,000 global crypto ATMs. Only two locations host Robocoin ATMs, CoinATMRadar data showed. Genesis Coin sits in the lead with machines in 2,348 locations.
Digital Asset ATMs Keep Coming
The world now sees 11.7 new crypto ATMs installed per day, according to CoinATMRadar’s data from the past seven days.
Last fall, Bitcoin ATM company Bitstop teamed up with massive United States-based mall operator Simon Malls, spurring the installation of five machines in five separate malls run by the operator.
Florida’s Miami International Airport also received a Bitcoin ATM from Bitstop in the latter half of 2019.
Crypto ATMs only recently surpassed the 6,000 landmark in November 2019, showing a growing public demand for cryptocurrency availability. This type of data shows digital asset adoption and presence continues waging forward, one step at a time.
Nigeria Becomes Eighth African Nation to Welcome Bitcoin ATMs
Africa’s largest country has welcomed its first Bitcoin ATM.
Blockstale BTM, the company that installed the ATM in the Dazey Lounge and Bar in Lagos state, plans to launch more than 30 more terminals across Nigeria.
“Despite all the legal uncertainties about cryptocurrencies in Nigeria, Nigerians happen to be the highest crypto traders in Africa,” Blockstale’s chief executive and founder, Daniel Adekunle, told local media on April 1.
Adekunle developed his Bitcoin ATMs in partnership with a tech firm based in Shenzhen, China.
Nigeria Welcomes Africa’s 15th Bitcoin ATM
Despite being home to the largest trade volume in Africa, Nigeria is the eighth country in the continent to host a Bitcoin ATM — with Blockstale’s comprising the 15th in Africa.
According to CoinATMRadar, South Africa is home to seven crypto ATMs, Ghana hosts two, and Botswana, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe each have a single terminal.
With Nigeria comprising Africa’s largest economy and population, the country’s first Bitcoin ATM may be a signpost for broader adoption across the continent. Coinstale’s terminal is only the second Bitcoin ATM in West Africa.
Nigerian LocalBitcoins Volume Drops After KYC Overhaul
Recent weeks have seen roughly 220 Bitcoins, or $1.38 million worth, of peer-to-peer (P2P) trade between BTC and Nigerian Naira on LocalBitcoins.
However, Nigerian LocalBitcoins has dropped by roughly 50% since the P2P platform strengthened its KYC requirements during September 2019.
Nigerian ‘Bitcoin’ Searches Top Google Trends
Nigeria also consistently tops Google searches for ‘Bitcoin’ — driving nearly twice the traffic as the second-ranked country, Austria, according to Google Trends.
Three of the top five ranked nations for ‘Bitcoin’ searches are African — with South Africa and Ghana ranking third and fifth respectively.
Bitcoin ATMs Expand Despite Shelter-in-Place Rules
Tucked into corners of grocery stores, gas stations and transit hubs, crypto ATMs are part of the “critical infrastructure industry” still allowed to operate amid the coronavirus contagion event. And some are thriving.
With blockchain-based payments apps and entertainment platforms seeing a boost in users with people spending more time online, crypto and bitcoin ATMs, the physical manifestation of this network, seem an unlikely adjunct to this market growth.
Despite wide-reaching shelter-in-place rulings meant to keep people indoors, some bitcoin ATM operators are reporting an increase in transactions, while others are taking advantage of this intermission to expand their networks.
Perhaps people are scared and are prepping in the most immediate way: the nearest ATM. Bitcoin-related Google searches are skyrocketing, but for the many intimidated by the world of wallets, private keys and QR codes, bitcoin ATMs (sometimes called BTMs) provide a convenient onramp to these “safe haven” assets.
“Even during a global pandemic, and perhaps more so, Bitcoin and Bitcoin point-of-sale services meet our customers’ essential needs in participating in this next-generation of banking, remittance, and e-commerce,” Marc Grens, co-founder of DigitalMint, a Bitcoin ATM operator, said over email.
Approximately 95 percent of DigitalMint machines are located in or outside of essential businesses and still accessible to the public. While the firm has seen a “slight decline” in overall volumes, Grens said, “we’re still driving a consistent amount of new and existing customer traffic, even during the lockdown.”
Since March, DigitalMint has expanded its kiosk and teller services to a few dozen new locations in Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. According to Coin ATM Radar, the total number of ATMs has increased 5.6 percent to 7,417 machines on April 1, up from 7,023 on March 1.
Similarly, LibertyX, which was granted a “BitLicense” to operate in New York last year, has finally begun to expand to locations in the state. “We’ve gone from zero to several hundred ATMs in a little over a month,” CEO & co-founder Chris Yim, said. Including expansions across the country, LibertyX has added approximately 1,000 new machines in the last two months.
LibertyX doesn’t own the actual physical machines, but licenses software to non-bank ATMs manufactured by Genmega and Hyosung, or operated by Payment Alliance International, which in turn are maintained by private owners across the country. At some point LibertyX’s software will be installed by default in new machines, but for now, ATM operators have to manually update their software to support crypto transactions.
“Timing-wise, it’s a little unfortunate,” Yim said. But, under quarantine, “I don’t think these operators have much else to do.”
Transaction volume across LibertyX’s 3,000 ATM network dropped approximately 20 percent in March. “We’re almost back to where we were pre-COVID.” Yim added: “April 15 was one of our highest volume ATM days, the day many taxpayers received their stimulus check.”
The company has also seen an increase in customer support tickets asking how the product works, suggesting an uptick in interest among new users.
Unlike LibertyX and DigitalMint, a recent market entrant is reporting a surge in transaction volume, despite the shrinking footprint of its ATM network. Coinsquare, which bought a controlling stake in crypto ATM startup Just Cash last summer, said about 350 of its 800 total ATMs are currently inaccessible.
“These numbers are staggering. Fewer machines, more overall transactions, and far more value per transaction.”
According to CEO Cole Diamond, the average transaction size in the past seven days is up 167 percent compared to the average transaction in 2019. While the average transaction size for the entire month is up 158 percent on last year’s average.
“These numbers are staggering. Fewer machines, more overall transactions, and far more value per transaction,” Diamond said.
“The average number, and average volume of transactions, is the highest it’s ever been.”
Coinsquare operates a similar business model to LibertyX, providing software to non-bank ATMs to enable crypto transactions. He expects to roll out to several thousand new operators in the coming months.
Still, aren’t these things germy?
Brick-and-mortar banks are modifying or curtailing in-person services, like all businesses trying to adhere to social distancing mandates. Some retail branches have cordoned off access to ATMs, while others are converting to “drive-through only.”
This is a level of control many Bitcoin ATM manufacturers are unable to exert. As providers of software, or companies that franchisee machines to private owners, it’s up to operators to determine how, if they choose to, sanitize these screens.
Grens, Yim and Diamond have reached out to machine operators to recommend best practices in disinfection. But there really isn’t much they can do.
“It’s not responsible for us to push people to go out and touch screens,” Yim said. His firm, like the others, has low variable costs, little overhead, and nearly pure profits when times are fat, and said there’s runway for the company to wait out the COVID-19 crisis.
“Although the country may be shut down, our lives and financial responsibilities cannot be put on hold,” Grens said. “Fortunately for our customers, Bitcoin never goes on hold, either.”
Bitcoin ATMs Face Tighter Regulations Over Money Laundering
The global regulatory landscape is tightening for crypto ATM operators.
Experts predict that Bitcoin ATMs (BATMs) will face stricter regulations worldwide, with countries including Canada and Germany already moving to tighten up anti-money laundering requirements.
A June 2 report from CipherTrace estimates that 74% of transactions made from U.S.-based Bitcoin ATMs were sent out of the country during 2019. The report also found that 88% of funds sent from U.S. crypto ATMs to virtual currency exchanges were transferred overseas. The figure has seen exponential growth over recent years, doubling annually since 2017.
In an interview with Law360, CipherTrace CTO John Jeffries predicted that BATMs will become “a greater point of regulatory focus,” emphasizing “the need for more uniform regulatory enforcement and compliance” concerning crypto ATMs moving forward.
Canada Tightens Bitcoin ATM Regulations
CipherTrace’s report was published two days after new regulations treating Canadian firms dealing with virtual currencies as Money Service Businesses (MSBs) took effect.
Francis Pouliot of Bitcoin Foundation Canada and local crypto exchange BullBitcoin tweeted that the new legislation will predominantly affect those firms that swap crypto for cash, citing Bitcoin ATM operators as the most heavily impacted. Bitcoin ATM operators are now required to report all transactions worth $10,000 CAD or more.
The amended Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act was passed during June 2019 amid calls from the mayor of Vancouver to institute a city-wide ban on Bitcoin ATMs over money laundering concerns.
According to CoinATMradar, there are currently 778 crypto ATMs operating in Canada — which is almost 10% of the 7,958 terminals worldwide.
Global Regulators Target Crypto Kiosks
In July 2019, Spanish police also pointed to crypto ATMs as blind-spot in European anti-money laundering (AML) regulations after identifying a single local gang that had laundered roughly $10 million for Columbian drug traffickers using BATMs.
November last year saw the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launch an investigation into illicit uses of cryptocurrencies, highlighting potential tax issues resulting from the use of Bitcoin ATMs and kiosks.
The German Financial Market Authority (BaFin) took action against unlicensed Bitcoin ATMs in March of this year. The crackdown followed the introduction of new anti-money laundering regulations targeting holes in Germany’s previously existing cryptocurrency regulations.
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