The blockchain ecosystem borrows several elements from traditional finance. From borrowing and lending facilities to derivatives, insurance, and hedge funds, there are many parallels between the world of traditional finance (TradFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi). Anybody with a western bank account will likely understand how a regular ATM works. You insert your bank card, enter a PIN number, and withdraw cash from your account. However, Bitcoin ATMs work slightly differently. So, if you’re one of the many people wondering, “what is a Bitcoin ATM?” and “where can I learn how to use a Bitcoin ATM?”, read on!

In this article, we’re going to dive deep into Bitcoin ATMs. We’ll consider some of the most common questions about Bitcoin ATMs, such as “what is a Bitcoin ATM?” and “where can I learn how to use a Bitcoin ATM?”. Also, we’ll discuss some of the things to consider before using a Bitcoin ATM. This includes the fees you may have to pay to use these machines and the regulations that may affect your access to them.

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How to Use a Bitcoin ATM? – What is Bitcoin?

Before we consider the “what is a Bitcoin ATM?” and “where can I learn to use a Bitcoin ATM?” questions, let’s look at Bitcoin itself. Bitcoin is a decentralized “peer-to-peer electronic cash system” created in 2009. It uses a type of distributed ledger technology (DLT) called “blockchain” to facilitate payments and value transfer without intermediaries. The Bitcoin whitepaper was published by the pseudonymous developer(s) Satoshi Nakamoto. Government-issued money (fiat) relies on a central authority to ensure that everything operates smoothly. However, this means that fiat currencies have a single point of failure and can be manipulated to benefit a small group of individuals.

When learning how to use a Bitcoin ATM, many consider Bitcoin a physical asset.

Bitcoin remedies this using a decentralized network of nodes to validate transactions. Each node in the network has a financial incentive – to tell the truth. In addition, anybody who tries to fool the network into validating fraudulent transactions can be easily identified by the rest of the network.

The Bitcoin blockchain is the largest computing network in the world. There are no physical “Bitcoins” in existence. Instead, Bitcoins exist as entries on a public ledger secured by cryptography. Node operators throughout the network each have a copy of the same ledger. Special nodes called “mining nodes” expend vast amounts of energy to process Bitcoin transactions in a process called “mining”. 


Mining nodes compete to solve a complex math puzzle as part of the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism. The first miner node to solve the puzzle gains the ability to validate transactions, add them to a “block” of transactions, and append the block to the Bitcoin blockchain. By doing this, miners receive Bitcoin block rewards for their “work”. Once appended, blocks cannot be altered. 

This is where the Bitcoin blockchain gains its security. For example, if there are 10,000 blocks, and someone tries to alter the 9,995th block, they would have to mine all the following blocks (9,996th, 9,997th, etc.), racing and catching up with the miners who are mining the latest block in the chain. Plus, they would need the computational power of at least 51% of the entire Bitcoin network.

Public and Private Keys

Records of Bitcoin balances are upheld using public and private keys. A key is a sequence of letters and numbers used in cryptography. Public keys are similar to an account number you get from a bank. Giving your public key address to someone enables them to send Bitcoin to your wallet. However, the private key works much like a PIN number. As such, the private key should be kept safe and used to sign transactions you want to send from your wallet. 

Why is Bitcoin Becoming so Popular?

Bitcoin (BTC) is a censorship-resistant cryptocurrency that operates outside of traditional financial systems. Also, Bitcoin is verifiably scarce. A maximum of 21 million BTC can ever enter circulation. In addition, the amount of BTC entering into circulation reduces approximately every four years (or 210,000 blocks). Unlike other commodities and currencies, investors can see that the BTC reduces with certainty.

Governments and central banks can create new fiat currency out of thin air. When this happens, anyone holding that currency loses purchasing power. However, nobody can manipulate the supply of Bitcoin. Furthermore, Bitcoin shares many properties with gold. It is an efficient unit of account and medium of change. Also, Bitcoin is more divisible and portable than gold. As such, Bitcoin is becoming a highly sought-after store of value and unit of account.

Bitcoin trend chart showing the popularity increase. This has many wondering if Bitcoin ATMs will become the norm.

Bitcoin is open to anyone, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or geography. Anybody with an internet connection can use Bitcoin and take control of their wealth without the need for central banks and government-issued money. Bitcoin is helping to bank the unbanked in many parts of the world, providing a hedge against hyperinflation and a means of resistance to bad economic policies.

In addition, Bitcoin is seeing a significant amount of attention from the traditional finance world. Investors can gain exposure to the price of Bitcoin more efficiently than ever before. Investment vehicles such as Bitcoin exchange traded funds (ETFs) and pension schemes bridge the gap between the legacy financial system and the world of decentralized finance (DeFi).

What is a Bitcoin ATM?

A Bitcoin ATM is a standalone machine or kiosk that facilitates the purchase of Bitcoin. The automated teller machine (ATM) has been a cornerstone of our financial infrastructure for several years. A Bitcoin ATM works slightly differently from a regular ATM. It is connected to the internet and enables people to purchase Bitcoin from a physical location. Some Bitcoin ATMs are bi-directional, meaning you can use them to buy and sell Bitcoin for cash.

Individual using a Bitcoin ATM.

Most Bitcoin ATMs accept cash, credit, and debit cards. Instead of connecting to a bank account, Bitcoin ATMs enable specific wallet addresses to interact with a Bitcoin exchange. You can often find Bitcoin ATMs in shops, bars, airports, and shopping malls.

Reports suggest that there are between 30,000 and 50,000 Bitcoin ATMs worldwide. Some of these machines simply enable users to purchase Bitcoin. However, some ATMs are complex machines that facilitate the buying and selling of multiple cryptocurrencies. The key value proposition of these machines is that they enable people to convert physical cash into cryptocurrencies.

How to Use a Bitcoin ATM? – Explained

Although this process will vary between providers, we’re going to outline the key steps you’ll need to know when learning how to use a Bitcoin ATM. After creating a Bitcoin wallet, securing your private keys, and locating your nearest Bitcoin ATM, you’ll need to set up an account with the relevant ATM provider. Moreover, some Bitcoin ATMs will require proof of identity to comply with local regulations. 

How to Use a Bitcoin ATM?

Once you have an account set up, you can enter your wallet address into the ATM. This should be the wallet address that you want your new Bitcoin purchase to be sent to. Next, select your payment method and insert your cash or card. Once you confirm the transaction, you should receive a receipt. Now, your Bitcoin purchase should arrive in your wallet in a few minutes! 

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Things to Consider Before Using a Bitcoin ATM

You may need to create a Bitcoin wallet before using a Bitcoin ATM. This could be a paper wallet, a web-based wallet, a hardware wallet, or a mobile wallet. However, you decide to look after your Bitcoin and ensure your wallet is set up and ready to go before heading to a Bitcoin ATM. Make sure you have secured your private keys or downloaded any relevant QR codes you may need to transfer Bitcoin from an ATM to your wallet. 

Another thing to consider is the location of the Bitcoin ATM. Despite the growing popularity, Bitcoin ATMs are not always as easy to find as you might think. You can locate your nearest Bitcoin ATM using a tool such as the “ ATM map“. Security is of the highest importance when it comes to cryptocurrency. If you intend on making a substantial deposit or withdrawal, make sure that the ATM you visit is in a safe place. 

You may find that Bitcoin ATMs charge higher fees than a lot of cryptocurrency exchanges. As such, consider the fees of your nearest Bitcoin ATM and the impact it may have on any investments you make. In addition, you may need to provide some form of identification when using a Bitcoin ATM. Bitcoin ATMs are required to be compliant with anti-money laundering regulations. In particular, large deposits may require you to provide additional personal information.

Moreover, always conduct your own research before using any Bitcoin ATM. Some providers offer customer support, while others charge considerably large fees. Bitcoin ATMs have been manufactured for several years and may vary in reliability. Thus, consider speaking to someone who has used a Bitcoin ATM recently to confirm it works correctly.

How to Use a Bitcoin ATM? – Regulation

In March 2022, it was announced that the “Financial Conduct Authority” (FCA) in the UK would ban the use of Bitcoin ATMs. Until recently, there were around 80 operational Bitcoin ATMs in the UK, all of which were operating without a license. This follows a considerable lack of enthusiasm from the Bank of England to consider central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

Before you discover how to use a Bitcoin ATM, learn about the important regulations.

The reasons given for the move against crypto ATMs suggest that cryptocurrencies put consumers at financial risk. Although the UK lags behind its European counterparts in blockchain acceptance, this sentiment could be echoed throughout other major economies. Currently, the US appears to be implementing a series of regulatory frameworks to facilitate the widespread adoption of Bitcoin ATMs. However, these machines could come under regulatory scrutiny in the years to come. The regulatory landscape is constantly shifting in the world of crypto. As such, it’s worth bearing in mind that these services may not always be available in every part of the world.

Exploring: What is a Bitcoin ATM? – Summary 

Bitcoin ATMs offer a convenient solution for turning cash into cryptocurrency. Although not every country appears to be on board with this financial trend, many popular retailers and commercial outlets appear to be embracing Bitcoin ATMs. Some Bitcoin ATMs offer additional selling features and conversions between cash and Bitcoin. However, most machines charge much higher fees than cryptocurrency exchanges.

In the age of digital finance, people who hold cash under the mattress can be at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing certain goods and services. Furthermore, because Bitcoin is the currency of the internet, it is assumed that those who hold it have access to the internet. Regardless, Bitcoin ATMs provide a useful method for accessing Bitcoin even if you don’t have a computer or access to the internet. Moreover, Bitcoin ATMs are bridging the gap between the legacy financial system and the world of decentralized finance (DeFi).

The next time somebody asks you, “what is a Bitcoin ATM?”, you should be able to answer confidently after reading this article. In addition, the next time somebody asks you, “where can I learn how to use a Bitcoin ATM?”, you can point them straight to this article!

To truly understand what the future of currency and finance could look like, we need to understand the history of money. Check out the Bitcoin Monetary Revolution course at Moralis Academy to learn about the evolution of currency and the importance of blockchain in modern finance. Also, see our “DeFi Explained” and “How to Invest in Crypto” articles to further expand your Web3 and blockchain knowledge. Kickstart your blockchain education today and become blockchain certified with Moralis Academy!