The Bitcoin ATM market is a very competitive space, and devices are being rolled out every month. The growth between March 2015 and September 2016 has been quite spectacular, as the number of devices has more than doubled. Unfortunately, the majority of them are still deployed in developed regions, where bitcoin may not make a big impact anytime soon.
A Booming Bitcoin ATM Market With Drawbacks
One thing Bitcoin ATMs have going for them is how easy they make it to buy cryptocurrency with cash. Using a Bitcoin exchange, which is still the dominant method of getting involved in cryptocurrency, requires users to send wire transfers or rely on payment cards. These processes, however, are quite slow and can be subject to hefty fees.
This partially explains the continual growth of the Bitcoin ATM market. A lot of companies are deploying these machines on a regular basis in the hopes of getting more people interested in Bitcoin. Even Deloitte recently added a Bitcoin ATM to their premises, which goes to show that cryptocurrency is a topic kicked around at the water cooler.
— NIRP Umbrella (@UmbrellaNirp) September 30, 2016
Looking at the numbers themselves, there were 353 Bitcoin ATMs in March of 2015–quite a strong number, even though Bitcoin has not gone mainstream just yet. However, this was only the beginning, as the number of Bitcoin ATMs has been on the rise ever since. In fact, the amount of machines in circulation has more than doubled over the past 18 months.
What is rather unfortunate is where these Bitcoin ATMs have been deployed. The vast 1majority of devices is located in the US and Canada, both of which are countries where Bitcoin will not make a mainstream impact anytime soon. Individual users and companies have plenty of payment options to choose from, and Bitcoin may not offer them something that other providers will not.
Developing regions could benefit a lot more from Bitcoin ATM deployment. Countries where cash is the dominant payment method and financial inclusion is next to non-existent are breeding grounds for alternative finance. Getting the ATMs shipped to those regions and keeping them in operation will be a logistical challenge, though.
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