Bitcoin: what are automated teller machines and where to find them

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Not everyone knows that there are Automated Bitcoin Teller Machines (BTM). 

The term Automated Teller Machine (ATM) refers to machines equipped with an automated cash withdrawal, and sometimes deposit, slot for fiat money. Sometimes they are also improperly called Bancomat. 

However, traditional ATM machines only allow withdrawals, and sometimes deposits, in fiat currency, with banknotes or checks, but not in cryptocurrencies. 

The automated Bitcoin Teller Machine (BTM)

For this reason, specialized ATMs for exchanging cryptocurrencies into fiat currencies, and vice versa, have been created for some time now. 

Therefore, these are not cash withdrawal or deposit counters from a bank account, but real exchange counters to buy or sell cryptocurrencies in fiat currencies. 

They are called crypto ATMs, or simply BTMs (Bitcoin Teller Machine). 

BTMs allow you to buy cryptocurrencies, to then send them to your own personal wallet, paying in fiat currency, or sometimes even to sell cryptocurrencies to withdraw fiat currency in cash. 

The problem is that in many countries these machines are required to perform KYC, which stands for Know Your Customer, meaning the recognition and verification of users’ identities, and this can sometimes be particularly problematic.

Actually, to tell the truth, there are not many users who use them precisely because often those who use banknotes do so to maintain a high level of privacy, but anonymous BTMs are prohibited in many countries. 

Once they were more widespread, but since many countries have required service providers to impose identity verification on users, they have started to be used less and less.

Furthermore, they often apply very high spreads, so in case you are forced to use them in a non-anonymous way they are not convenient, because at that point on any crypto exchange you can carry out cryptocurrency trades in fiat currency at lower costs. 

Where to find them

BTMs are scattered all over the world, but not evenly. 

First of all, there are States where they are more widespread, and States where they are much less (or are completely absent), moreover they can often be found only in big cities. 

There is a reference website that shows the location of over 37,000: it’s called Coin ATM radar, and you can find it at the address coinatmradar.com.

It should be noted that BTMs do not support all cryptocurrencies, so before going to one of these counters, it is advisable to check if it supports the cryptocurrency on which you want to operate. However, in general, they all support Bitcoin.

The country with the most BTMs is obviously the USA: out of the 37,000 crypto ATMs monitored by Coin ATM radar, 31,000 are located in the USA. However, this could be due to the fact that the providers of this service who add the location of their machines on the website are mostly US companies. 

Indeed, curiously in second place is Canada, where almost all BTMs are located near or quite close to the border with the USA. However, in Hong Kong there are more than 150 of them. 

All other countries have less than a thousand BTMs on Coin ATM radar, with some glaring absences like China. However, it should be remembered that in theory it is still illegal to buy and sell cryptocurrencies in China. 

Furthermore, there are also immense countries, like India, where there is only one BTM, while much smaller countries, like Poland, have more than 200. 

Even in Great Britain there is only one, but this is due to a specific law that effectively makes them essentially illegal. 

The most surprising data, after that of the USA, is that of the tiny state of El Salvador, where however Bitcoin is legal tender: with 144 BTM it beats Switzerland, Italy, Russia and even Mexico, the other large state bordering the USA.

The main suppliers

There are a total of 486 companies globally that offer this type of service, but most of them have a very limited number of BTC. 

Just to say that out of the 37,000 ATMs mapped by Coin ATM radar, 70% belong to only 10 companies, while all the others together are limited to about 11,000 ATMs. 

The absolute main one turns out to be Bitcoin Depot, with over 7,400 BTMs. It is obviously an American company, and all its branches are located on US territory, including Hawaii. 

In second place, with over 4,800 ATMs, there is another American company, CoinFlip, which also operates in Australia. Australia is the third country in the world for the number of BTMs, and the vast majority of these are owned by CoinFlip. 

There are also three other companies, each with more than 2,000 BTMs: Bitstop, RockItCoin, and Athena Bitcoin, all three of which are American. 

So the first five operators in the world are American, and even among the others in the top 10 there doesn’t seem to be any operating outside of the USA, Canada, and Australia. 

The company with the most BTMs in Europe is Kurant, which however stops at just over 300 machines, while the most present in Canada is Localcoin with about 900 machines. 

As easily understood from these numbers, BTMs are a phenomenon typically American, which has only taken root in nearby Canada and Anglo-Saxon Australia.

After all, they are machines useful especially for the use of cash, and in many countries around the world the use of cash is strongly opposed by authorities.