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March 26, 2019

Bitcoin ATMs: The Good and the Bad

Bitcoin
Photo Credit: antanacoins via flickr

Bitcoin is 10 years old now. It’s already got its legs to walk and the proper mindset to talk. Although it’s still in its infancy stage, it has learned a lot in the last 10 years.

Mainly, there are so many ways to buy bitcoin now. On peer-to-peer marketplaces like Paxful, there are over 350 payment methods available. Among many of the advantages and disadvantages of bitcoin, this is proving to be one of the greatest advantages. 

When bitcoin ATMs first came out, its promise was to make the buying and selling process not only easier but also more accessible. There are lots of bitcoin ATM machines around the world now but is it really worth using? If you’ve never encountered one of these before but are thinking about it, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to take a look at the good and the bad of using bitcoin ATMs.

Bitcoin ATMs: The good

There are a lot of people that use bitcoin ATMs around the world. If there weren’t there wouldn’t be any machines. Here are some of the reasons that bitcoin ATMs are used:

Speed

Bitcoin ATMs are arguably one of the fastest ways to buy and sell bitcoins. Although it varies by machine, some machines offer a 15-second operation. This means that all you’d have to do is scan your QR wallet code, insert bank notes (this includes cash and other bank requirements), and click “send bitcoins” and voila! You’ll have some brand new bitcoins in your wallet!

Note: If it’s your first time buying from a bitcoin ATM, you might have to do some verification. The verifications depend on the machine but the most common forms include SMS for small amounts and ID scans for bigger ones. 

It’s secure

More often than not, bitcoin ATMs are run by well-known operators with an already-established business. This means that they’ll normally have a business address, support phone, and email. Other than that, there is no middleman involved in the process. It’s just a user directly interacting with a machine. Some bitcoin ATMs are even anonymous but more and more machines are starting to adopt KYC/AML laws which means it might be a little hard to find an anonymous bitcoin ATM.

Bitcoin ATMs: The bad

Now that you know the pros of using bitcoin ATMs, you’d think it’s a good deal right? Well, don’t get ahead of yourself just yet. It’s important that you look at the cons first before making a decision. 

It’s a little expensive

Sometimes, the fees and costs that accompany bitcoin ATMs can get a little over the top. Many complaints have been filed by users in the past and to some extent, it seems to be true. Charges vary from machine to machine and some can charge as high as 30% or more via commission or price mark up. 

Limited machines

Although the number of bitcoin ATM machines is growing, they’re limited to certain areas of the world. Some people are still amazed when they actually see one and some are unfortunate to not have any machines around them. 

Sometimes, it just isn’t reliable

In the past, people have often complained that bitcoin ATMs in their area were frequently reported non-functional and ended up losing some of their cash to a dead machine. It takes a certain level of maintenance to keep these machines running and sometimes they just don’t get that maintenance. This is especially true for the machines that are more remote (away from the city). With machines having service issues like this, it totally defeats the purpose of having bitcoin ATMs around you in the first place. 

There’s still a lot to develop

Bitcoin ATMs are still in development and as you can see with the bad side, there is still a lot that can be improved. More research is being done in hopes to eventually perfect bitcoin ATMs. If the system is eventually perfected, then it’s safe to say that it could launch bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into some pretty good exposure and hopefully, that’ll factor into eventual mass adoption. 


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Ignacio Vargas - “24-year old finance student. Kind of new to cryptocurrency, but hungry to learn more.”

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