Bitcoin ATMs – A Beginner’s Guide

Last updated: 9/23/19

Bitcoin ATMs allow the purchase and sale of Bitcoin with cash and with relative anonymity. In this post, I’ll cover the different ATMs around, their pros and cons and also show you how to find a Bitcoin ATM near your home.

Bitcoin ATM Summary

Bitcoin ATMs, also known as BTMs, are machines that accept cash and dispense Bitcoin in return. Some ATMs also buy Bitcoin from you and dispense cash in return.

Due to their anonymous nature, most Bitcoin ATMs have strict buying limits, with some even requiring a KYC process. Here are the top Bitcoin ATMs around:

General Bytes
Number of models:
2
Genesis Coin
Number of models:
3
Lamassu
Number of models:
4

That’s Bitcoin ATMs in a nutshell. If you want a more detailed review about BTMs keep on reading, here’s what I’ll cover:

  1. What is a Bitcoin ATM?
  2. How to Use a Bitcoin ATM?
  3. Best Bitcoin ATMs
  4. Bitcoin ATM Manufacturers
  5. Bitcoin ATM Locations
  6. Operating Your Own Bitcoin ATM
  7. Conclusion

1. What is a Bitcoin ATM?

A Bitcoin ATM acts like a physical Bitcoin exchange where you can buy and sell Bitcoins with cash. The world’s first Bitcoin ATM was opened on October 29, 2013, at Waves Coffee Shop in Vancouver, Canada. The device is often comprised of a scanner, a cash dispenser, and a computer to manage the transactions.

How Bitcoin ATMs Work

Bitcoins are dispensed either to the buyer’s own Bitcoin wallet (via scanned QR code on the buyer’s mobile device or paper wallet) or to a paper wallet generated and printed by the ATM at the time of purchase.

The price of the purchase is dependent on current Bitcoin exchange rate, which the ATM retrieves from the internet in real-time. Also, an additional percentage fee is charged by the ATM for the service and factored into the price.

Do Bitcoin ATMs Give Cash?

Some BTMs work both ways – meaning they can dispense Bitcoin in exchange for cash and they can also dispense cash in exchange for Bitcoin. However, most models work only for buying Bitcoin.

How much fee do Bitcoin ATMs charge?

Bitcoin ATMs charge an average fee of 8.93%. However, this is a rough average and the fees vary between ATMs. Make sure to read the instructions on the machine before starting the process.


2. How Do I Use a Bitcoin ATM?

While each BTM is different, the buying process in all of them is basically the same:

  1. Choose “Buy Bitcoin”
  2. Scan the QR code of your Bitcoin address with the BTM scanner
  3. Depending on the ATM and jurisdiction, you may need to provide identification
  4. Enter the amount you want to purchase
  5. Insert cash to the BTM
  6. Wait for the machine to process the transaction
  7. Check your Bitcoin wallet for the transaction confirmation

The process of selling Bitcoins to a Bitcoin ATM is much more diverse and depends on the specific BTM, however, these machines are pretty intuitive to use so just follow the instructions on the screen.


3. Best Bitcoin ATMs

General Bytes

General Bytes, a Czech based company, is the world’s largest Bitcoin, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency ATM manufacturer. The company has sold over 2500 machines in over 60 countries.

Their Bitcoin ATMs can support over 120 different fiat currencies and over 60 different cryptocurrencies. The company manufactures two main BTM models:

BATMTWO

This ATM model is designed to be securely mounted on a wall or optional stand. It supports only buying cryptocurrencies and has a built in finger scanner for AML/KYC compliance. The BATMTWO costs around $3249.

batmtwo

BATMTHREE

A 23″ FullHD display fully mounted BTM. This Bitcoin ATM offers both buying and selling of Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. The BATAMTHREE costs around $7,499.

batmthree

Genesis Coin

Genesis Coin Inc., based in San Diego US, is the second most popular Bitcoin ATM manufacturer. The company supplies three different BTM models:

Genesis1

A 2-way Bitcoin ATM (buy and sell) packed with additional features such as a bill validator, barcode scanner, EMV card reader, fingerprint reader (optional) and a thermal printer. The Gensis1 costs $14,500.

genesis1

Satoshi1

The Satoshi1 comes in both a 1-way or 2-way model. This machine is much smaller than the Genesis1 and has a 21’’ screen, a high definition camera and an optional fingerprint scanner. The Satoshi1 costs $6,800. satoshi1

Finney3

The Finney3 is the newest and smallest BTM from Genesis Coin. This 1-way BTM has a 21’’ screen and similar features as the Satoshi1, only it’s smaller and should be mounted due to its size. The Finney3 costs $4,500.

finney3

Lamassu

Lamassu, a Switzerland based company, is the oldest BTM manufacturer around (since 2013). Lamassu machines are open-source and support Bitcoin, Zcash, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Dash. You can add additional coins manually if needed. Lamassu has four different Bitcoin ATM models:

Gaia

Designed to be wall-mounted or table-mounted and weighing only 25 kgs, Gaia can fit into a flight case. Gaia is a buy only Bitcoin ATM and it costs €3600. gaia

Sintra

fabricated from sheets of 2.5mm steel and an all-glass user interface, the Sintra has a custom computer board with battery backup, 3G connectivity, tamper sensors, and front door control. This is a1 or 2-way Bitcoin ATM that is beautifully designed. The 1-way model costs €6,200 while the 2-way model costs €7,500. sintra

Sintra Forte

the Sintra Forte is about 20% larger than the Sintra and includes a vault controlled by an electronic lock. The vault is constructed from 6mm hardened steel and contains the note validator, note dispenser, and computer board. This BTM also comes as a 1-way (€7,700) or 2-way (€8,900). sintraF

Douro II

The Douro II is the newest model from Lamassu. As in the larger Sintra, the new Douro II utilizes a custom computer board with battery backup, 3G connectivity, and tamper sensors. This 1-way BTM costs €5,200. douro


4. All Bitcoin ATM Manufacturers

There over 40 Bitcoin ATM manufacturers. Here’s a list of all of them

  1. General Bytes 
  2. Genesis Coin 
  3. Lamassu
  4. BitAccess
  5. Coinsource
  6. Covault
  7. Order Bob ATM 
  8. Digital Mint
  9. Shitcoins Club 
  10. Coinme 
  11. Sumo ATM 
  12. Bytefederal 
  13. zzBit
  14. wBTCb 
  15. RusBit 
  16. BTC facil 
  17. BBFPro 
  18. Bcash Greece Inc 
  19. Intellogate
  20. BitTeller 
  21. Bitstop
  22. ChainBytes
  23. Bitnovo
  24. Vault Logic 
  25. Trovemat 
  26. CoinLogiq
  27. BTCRiot 
  28. Criptec 
  29. Open Bitcoin ATM 
  30. Criptomat 
  31. DOBI ATM 
  32. Coin Capital
  33. CryptoMat
  34. CryptoMatic ATM
  35. CryptoGo
  36. BitOcean
  37. Bitcoin Já
  38. BitVending
  39. Coinplug
  40. Fastcoin ATM
  41. Virtual Crypto

5. Where Can I Find a Bitcoin ATM?

Here’s a complete list of Bitcoin ATMs around the world, courtesy of CoinATMRadar. Just find your location and see where is the nearest Bitcoin ATM to you.

The map also allows you to search for Altcoin ATMs if you want to buy/sell other cryptos. Each ATM takes a certain commission from the trade which varies from one device to another, so make sure you’re aware of the fees which are usually stated on the machine.


6. Regulations for Operating a Bitcoin ATM in the US

Below are four key elements around which you can build your compliance strategy, prior to launching a Bitcoin ATM:

Research money transmitter requirements in the state of operation

It’s important to understand that some states are friendlier to bitcoin ATMs, or bitcoin in general, than others. This could mean the difference between a comprehensive and costly state licensure process and an exemption under state money transmitter law.

The differences are as vast as they are ever-changing. States continue to evolve their application of existing and antiquated money transmission law.

As we speak, several states have pending legislation aimed at redefining money transmission, so as to accommodate bitcoin companies.

That said, it’s vital to understand the requirements in your state. For starters, the non-profit bitcoin research and advocacy group, Coin Center, offers a helpful real-time state regulatory tracker.

Register as a money services business (MSB) with FinCEN

It might be difficult to believe, but registering with FinCEN, the nation’s top money laundering watchdog, might be the easiest compliance task. It’s literally a “check-the-box” activity. Indeed, in contrast to the permission-based state licensure process, at the federal level, entities merely register with FinCEN via online portal.

The process can typically be completed in under an hour. While registering with FinCEN is a simple exercise, it comes with much responsibility. By checking the boxes, so to speak, you are agreeing to be regulated by FinCEN and thus to meet certain requirements to the satisfaction of regulators.

This includes, among other things, registering at the state-level, if applicable; developing and implementing an anti-money laundering (AML) program; retaining certain transactional information; and, reporting suspicious activity and transactions over $10,000.

Implement an anti-money laundering (AML) program

FinCEN regulation requires implementation of a written AML program. An effective AML program is one designed to prevent your bitcoin ATM from being used to facilitate money laundering activities. Each AML program must be in writing and address, at minimum, the “four pillars” as follows:

  1. Incorporate policies, procedures, and internal controls reasonably designed to assure compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)
  2. Designate a compliance officer responsible for day-to-day compliance with the BSA and AML program.
  3. Provide ongoing, targeted training to appropriate personnel concerning their responsibilities under the AML program.
  4. Provide for an independent review or audit of your AML program on an annual basis, at minimum.

Test your AML program

Start by running some sample transactions from your bitcoin wallet through the terminal(s). Be sure to test your thresholds to ensure that proper know your customer (KYC) requirements are triggered, as well as any “red flag” indicators of potentially suspicious or unusual activity.

Be sure to confirm that customer and transaction information is properly obtained and recorded. In so doing, document your findings, especially any subsequent changes to your AML program as a result of this testing.


7. Conclusion

Bitcoin ATMs are a very convenient way to buy and even sell Bitcoins very quickly and sometimes even anonymously. While most BTMs operate more or less the same, it’s always recommended to check for the fees on the BTM you’re planning to use.

Also, as a precaution, I’d even video the whole buying process so you’ll have proof if something goes wrong.

A special thanks to Joe Ciccolo, the founder & president of BitAML for adding his knowledge about Bitcoin ATM regulations. He can be reached at [email protected]. Have you had any experience with Bitcoin ATMs? I’d love to hear it in the comment section below.  

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Dion
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Dion

I have a question.. I’m looking to invest 100 dollars into bitcoin… and I would like 2 know if I select “Buy”..or “Sell”??.. in order to invest money.

Don Giuliani
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Don Giuliani

If anyone of you is interested in starting a Bitcoin ATM business I can help point you in the right location. I’ve purchased a few of them for overseas usage from http://www.chainbytes.com and i’m seeing money coming in. In fact 2 of them paid out for themselves on ROI withing 3-4 months. They have easy software to operate the machines and have an online dashboard that lets me set up all the rules, the percentage payouts, and manage the transactions of my machines. So combined with my regular atm locations its become profitable. Not a bad little business to get… Read more »

Mowgli
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Mowgli

Great article and map, however I noticed it doesn’t show the Bitcoin ATM in Tucson, Arizona. The ATM is located at Bookman’s on 3733 W. Ina Road. I was visiting from L.A. awhile ago and was pleasantly surprised to find they had one. Here is an article confirming the existence/ location of the aforementioned Bitcoin ATM. Cheers !

http://tucson.com/business/local/tucson-gets-arizona-s-first-bitcoin-atm/article_9714870a-4798-5383-821b-1a99b97b866a.html

Jeremy
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Jeremy

I’ve used the ATM in Tokyo. Hard as hell to find, and required quite a wait. Worked fine.