News: Bitcoin ATMs are coming to a gas station near you.
(Reuters) – A new feature has appeared in smoking stores in Montana, gas stations in the Carolinas, and delis in far corners of New York City: a brightly lit Bitcoin ATM where customers can buy or sell digital currency, and sometimes also withdraw cash.
Machines have multiplied rapidly in the US over the past year, fueled by a frenzy in crypto trading that caused Bitcoin prices to exceed $ 58,000.
Kiosk operators like CoinFlip and Coin Cloud have installed thousands of ATMs that have yet to be reached by competitors, executives told Reuters.
“I was just assuming there was a demand and people everywhere want bitcoin,” said Quad Coin founder Mark Shoiket, who flew to Montana after scanning a US card for bitcoin ATMs.
During a weeklong road trip, he found seven places to install machines, including 406 Glass, a store in Billings, Montana that sells tobacco, vape juice and brightly colored glass pipes.
According to howmanybitcoinatms.com, an independent study, there were 28,185 Bitcoin ATMs in the US as of January site. About 10,000 came in the last five months.
Bitcoin’s growing popularity has been the main driver behind new installations.
The reasons why people use ATMs instead of trading online vary. Some are paid in cash, others don’t have bank accounts, others want to send transfers abroad or want to remain anonymous, while others are more comfortable with using a physical machine.
Rebecca White, a 51-year-old Bitcoin investor who lives in the Pittsburgh area, makes major investments online and uses Bitcoin ATMs when her family has extra money.
“When we do our shopping and have $ 60 left, I’ll stop at the bitcoin ATM,” said White, who works in the nuclear industry.
Some machines only offer Bitcoin, while others let customers invest in various digital currencies. Few Bitcoin ATMs can actually spit out cash and cost more than regular ATMs or online transactions.
The fees range from 6% to 20% of the total transaction, said Pamela Clegg, director of financial research and training at cryptocurrency compliance firm CipherTrace. Fees vary by location and Bitcoin ATM operator.
“The growth of the ATM market – it’s not even a gentle increase, it’s almost a 45% increase,” said Clegg. “The growth is pretty amazing.”
Government agencies have raised red flags over some machines because of their cost and the potential for illegal activity. The New Jersey State Commission of Inquiry outlined some of these concerns in a February report titled “Fraud, Suspicious Transactions, and Questionable Cryptocurrency Kiosk Practices”.
None of these issues stopped the industry from growing.
COAST TO COAST
Bitcoin ATMs are now available in every state except Alaska and Washington, DC, according to an online map from Coin ATM Radar. Reuters journalists recently spotted new additions to gas stations, shops, and restaurants in North Carolina, South Carolina, rural Pennsylvania, and the outskirts of New Jersey and New York City.
Las Vegas-based Coin Cloud has 1,470 machines in the U.S. and expects 10,000 by the end of the year, said CEO Chris McAlary. Despite fears the pandemic could affect business, pedestrian traffic actually increased during the lockdown.
“We expected the worst when Covid hit, but the stimulus payments came out and that helped quite a bit,” McAlary said. “Some people took impulses and used them to buy digital currencies.”
Chicago-based competitor CoinFlip has increased its ATM presence from around 420 last year to 1,800 now, said CEO Daniel Polotsky. The transactions per ATM have almost tripled in this period.
“There are people who don’t have bank accounts or who don’t like to use them,” said Polotsky.
CoinFlip charges customers 6.99% for buying crypto and 4.99% for selling, he said.
Atlanta-based Bitcoin Depot has similarly increased its number of ATMs from 500 to more than 1,800 machines in the past year, said CEO Brandon Mintz. Most customers are 25-40 years old and find machines by searching online, he said.
General Bytes, maker of Bitcoin ATMs, was temporarily out of stock last summer due to increasing demand. The company sold 3,000 machines last year, 90% of which went to North America, said founder Karel Kyovsky.
Not every ATM attracts customer lines.
Quad Coin’s Shoiket removed a handful of the 200 ATMs it installed last year because they hadn’t made a profit in six months.
At Grassy Point Bar & Grill on New York’s Broad Channel, an employee had to plug in a Bitcoin ATM so a Reuters journalist could see how it worked.
And only a handful of truck drivers have stopped at the Pioneer Auto Museum in Murdo, South Dakota to use a coin cloud machine installed five months ago, owner Vivian Sonder said.
Coin Cloud offered her $ 200 a month to house the machine and regularly sent maintenance workers to check it out from Rapid City, 140 miles away.
“I didn’t understand why you wanted to put one here,” said Sonder. “It’s a seasonal business in a city with fewer than 500 residents.”
Reporting by Imani Moise and Anna Irrera; Additional coverage from Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra and Nick Zieminski
Original Source © Reuters