It is a strange development that we can observe at the moment: While more and more traditional ATMs are disappearing because banking is shifting to the internet and electronic payments are on the rise, the number of Bitcoin ATMs is increasing worldwide. In 2021, their number has even doubled. Around 50 crypto ATMs are added every day – most of them in the USA, where over 30,000 machines are installed. Canada is far behind in second place with around 2,300, ahead of El Salvador, which operates over 200 ATMs due to its introduction of bitcoin as a means of payment, and the trend is rising. However, this still puts the South American country ahead of Europe’s leader Spain, which also has just under 200 ATMs. Behind Spain, surprisingly, is Austria with just under 150, Switzerland with over 140 and Poland with over 130 devices. Big Germany has only a little more than 30 machines.
The reasons for the imbalance are, on the one hand, regulatory – different money laundering laws make it difficult for operators to set up their machines in some places. On the other hand, the conditions at the vending machines are much worse than online – for many people interested in crypto, buying and selling is not worthwhile due to high fees of sometimes more than ten percent. Some people are interested in buying anonymously without registering, even if the sums are severely limited in this case.
Vending machine lowers inhibition threshold
While, as mentioned, the number of classic ATMs is declining, crypto ATMs are increasingly being set up to attract crypto laymen or conservative consumers and make it easier to get started. For newcomers, buying or trading cryptos is often difficult due to a lack of knowledge or confidence. The German Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe therefore also wants to appeal to its conservative investors by setting up Bitcoin ATMs. This gives the cryptocurrency a real, tangible form in addition to its virtual existence. This creates trust and opens markets.
In addition to banks, where the placement of crypto ATMs is obvious, retailers are also pushing into the expanding market: Walmart will place around 200 Bitcoin ATMs in its shops, enabling its customers to convert fiat money into Bitcoin in the department stores’ chain’s shops. The prerequisite for this is a verified Coinme account. Operationally, fiat currency is to be deposited and a voucher issued with bitcoin.
In Austria, on the other hand, the electronics retailer Saturn has already been testing a special crypto ATM for several years. It makes perfect sense to make cryptocurrencies more attractive to the tech-savvy buyer group – due to the success in Austria, which has the second most crypto ATMs in Europe, the trial is now to be extended to Germany, where there are only a few machines due to stricter regulations. Saturn is cooperating with the provider Kurant, which describes itself as the European market leader for Bitcoin ATMs. To use the machines, customers have to register once on the Kurant website and download a wallet app onto their smartphone. Afterwards, an amount of money can be selected at the machine that is to be converted and transferred. The app then generates a QR code, which in turn must be scanned at the vending machine before the desired amount can be deposited and the corresponding amount in Bitcoin or Ethereum can be credited to the digital wallet.