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How Bitcoin ATMs Work

While traditional ATMs allow users to withdraw and deposit cash into their bank account, Bitcoin ATMs enable users to buy and sell Bitcoin using cash.
How Bitcoin ATMs Work

Bitcoin’s rise to popularity has led to the creation of many ancillary products and services, such as Bitcoin ATMs, whose market worth is expected to reach $542.52 million by 2027.

Many people falsely believe that all things crypto are too complicated and techy for the average user. We decided to break the stigma and explain how to use Bitcoin ATMs, how they benefit the end-user and allow you to enter the crypto world in an easy way.

Are Bitcoin ATMs the Same Thing as Regular ATM Machines?

While traditional ATMs allow users to withdraw and deposit cash into their bank account, Bitcoin ATMs enable users to buy and sell Bitcoin using cash.

Bitcoin ATMs look the same as traditional ATMs - bulky machines that manage financial transactions. However, while traditional ATMs allow users to withdraw and deposit cash into their bank account, Bitcoin ATMs enable users to buy and sell Bitcoin using cash. So, they function more like an exchange ATM than a standard one.

Bitcoin ATMs usually have a cash dispenser and acceptor, as well as a QR scanner, just like their traditional counterparts. 

However, unlike regular ATMs, Bitcoin ATMs aren’t connected to a bank account, but to a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to buy and sell the cryptocurrency.

Types of Bitcoin ATMs

We can make a difference between two types of Bitcoin ATMs: unidirectional and bidirectional. Unidirectional Bitcoin ATMs allow users only to buy Bitcoin, while bidirectional allows users to buy and sell it. 

Generally speaking, the majority of Bitcoin ATMs you’ll come across are unidirectional, while only 30% are bidirectional.

How To Use a Bitcoin ATM

Using a Bitcoin ATM is fairly easy; however, it does require some preparation. Before using a Bitcoin ATM, users will have to get a crypto wallet. The wallet is where they’ll send and store the currency purchased at the ATM. Crypto wallets allow users to track their balance and access their digital currency with an alphanumeric key - the wallet’s address. 

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Secondly, users will need to either write down their key or download a QR code to access their wallets.

The next thing would be to find an ATM and set up an account with the ATM operator. This can take a few minutes since the operator will typically ask you to enter your phone number, a valid email address, and your name. These are all necessary for the know-your-customer procedure. You’ll also have to create a PIN you’ll be asked to type in every time you use that operator’s Bitcoin ATM.

Once you do this, choose the amount of cash you want to convert to Bitcoin (you can usually pick from several ranges, e.g. ,$20-$250, $251-$2,999, and $3,000-$5,000) and enter your wallet address by scanning the QR code from your phone or typing in the key manually.

After that, just insert your cash into the ATM and confirm the purchase. Bitcoins will be instantly sent to the address you’ve provided and you’ll get a receipt confirming the transaction.

Note that, just like regular ATMs, Bitcoin ATMs charge fees on a per-transaction basis. The rates vary based on the ATM provider, local law, and size of the transactions, but typically, they range from 7% to 20%. Make sure to check these rates before completing your purchase to avoid incurring unexpected costs.

Benefits of Using Bitcoin ATMs

Using a Bitcoin ATM comes with a wide array of benefits. Some of them include:

  • Increased privacy. The most ostensible benefit of Bitcoin ATMs is the level of privacy they provide. Even though transactions do require proof of your identity, they’re still more private than standard bank transactions.
  • They’re safe. Bitcoin ATMs are run by registered companies that have to adhere to all relevant rules and regulations of the country or state they’re located in.
  • They’re easy to use. As you can see from our description, using Bitcoin ATMs is pretty straightforward, which makes them attractive to crypto novices.
  • You don’t need a bank account. In case you don’t have a bank account, you’ll be glad to hear that Bitcoin ATMs don’t require you to open one. You will need a crypto wallet, though. 
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There are more than 14,000 Bitcoin ATMs around the world, and their number keeps on growing. They’re convenient and straightforward to use in addition to being fast and secure. That’s why there’s no reason not to use them even if you’re an absolute beginner in the world of crypto.