What Are Bitcoin ATMs How Do they Work?

25 Feb 2022

What Are Bitcoin ATMs and How Do They Work

The world's first Bitcoin ATM was opened in downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada, on October 29, 2013, inside a coffee shop, and while the company operating has changed, the ATM continues to work. During its initial launch, it processed CAD 1,000,000 within a matter of months, and due to its popularity, there are now more than 14,000 cryptocurrency ATMs worldwide.

A Bitcoin ATM allows anybody to buy and sell Bitcoin, typically with cash, but you may be able to trade for Bitcoin or use a debit or credit card to make the transaction.

What are the benefits of using Bitcoin ATMs, are they safe, and are there disadvantages to using them over other methods? Follow along to find out everything you need about Bitcoin ATMs.

How Do Bitcoin ATMs Work?

Bitcoin ATMs look like a regular standalone ATM that you would find at any convenience store. The Bitcoin ATM is connected to the Internet with access to various cryptocurrency networks, and often you can buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other popular cryptocurrencies.

Using a touchscreen and scanner, you can buy, sell, or trade Bitcoin with the company that owns the ATM. If purchasing, you will be given a rate, and then you will need to insert cash or use other forms of payment to purchase. Once verified, the Bitcoin will be transferred to the Bitcoin wallet you provided by scanning a Bitcoin QR code that connects to your Bitcoin wallet.

What Types Of Bitcoin ATMs Are There?

There are a few different types of Bitcoin ATMs, including:


Essentially you are buying and selling from a company that has set up an automated machine. The machine will have variable rates on Bitcoin and will likely modify those rates to add a commission, which could be 7-9% or wildly high.

It's important to double-check Bitcoin rates before purchasing from a Bitcoin ATM; the rates will always be slightly inflated, but any rates that are far too out of sync with actual rates may not be a good option, and you should search for an alternative Bitcoin ATM.

Depending on the Bitcoin ATM, several safety and verification processes may be followed. For example, you may be asked to scan a photo ID that will be stored, your phone number may be requested, and a pin code sent for 2-way verification, or in more extreme situations, you may be asked for all of those plus other verification such as utility bills, this is the KYC process.

How To Buy Cryptocurrency From A Bitcoin ATM

Buying Bitcoin from a Bitcoin ATM is a simple process but can be a little confusing your first time, especially if you're being asked to verify your ID, select different options, and make payment. Often this is all done within a busy store.

1. Locate A Local Bitcoin ATM

The best way to local a local Bitcoin ATM is to search google for "Bitcoin ATM" and check out the local results for your city. Often Bitcoin ATMs are in coffee shops, convenience stores, pubs, or cafes.

Locate A Local Bitcoin ATM

  • — coinatmradar.com
  • — coinatmfinder.com
  • — bitcoinatmmap.com


Before you head to the Bitcoin ATM, check what verification will be required or assume you will need at least your photo ID and a phone number to verify yourself.

2. Get a Bitcoin Mobile Wallet

Most Bitcoin ATMs will need to scan a QR code that is connected to your crypto wallet. If your wallet has a mobile app or can provide you with a QR code, then you will need to bring this with you.

If your Bitcoin wallet can't do this, then you'll need to find other options or create a Bitcoin digital wallet and transfer your bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies purchases to your primary wallet later.

It's convenient to have a mobile Bitcoin wallet on your phone for such situations, but anyway that you want to carry or store your QR code will be acceptable for the Bitcoin ATM.

3. Purchase Bitcoin At Your Local Bitcoin ATM

Find your local Bitcoin ATM; it's best to go when it's not busy as the ATM will not have great privacy. Tap the screen and go through the process of how much Bitcoin you want to buy or sell, verify your identity with whatever methods are requested, and then when requested, you can scan your QR code.

You may also be able to enter your bitcoin wallet address manually; however, this carries a risk if you enter the wrong address, and Bitcoin transactions can't be reversed if you send your purchase to someone else.

It's generally best to wait for your purchase to complete before leaving so that you can contact the ATM provider or take down contact details before leaving. Transactions may be completed within 5-10 minutes, or they could take a few hours to process.

4. A Real-World Example of a Bitcoin ATM Transaction

In some situations, you may need to verify your identity on the Bitcoin ATM owner's website, or you can try to verify in-person at the actual Bitcoin ATM.

Create an account on the website or by using your phone at the Bitcoin ATM.

Provided below is an example using the Satoshi Bitcoin ATM.

    • 1. Verify your identity; the methods required can vary, but you may need a photo ID, phone number, and even utility or other bills.


Bitcoin ATM Transaction


    • 2. You may need to verify your phone number using a code that is texted to you, and you input it into the system.


Satoshi bitcoin ATM


    • 3. Input how many Сryptocurrencies you want to buy, then confirm the currency, which will likely be USD.


Сryptocurrencies you want to buy


    • 4. Some Bitcoin ATMs offer multiple cryptocurrencies to select from; pick the one you want.


Bitcoin ATMs offer


    • 5. Choose your method of providing your Bitcoin wallet; this could be by entering it manually or scanning a QR code linked to your Bitcoin wallet.


Choose your method


    • 6. Scan your QR code or enter your Bitcoin wallet address.


enter your Bitcoin wallet


    • 7. The Bitcoin ATM will request a certain amount of fiat (regular) currency that you must provide to the Bitcoin ATM because the transaction can complete.


Bitcoin ATM - insert bills now


  • 8. Your transaction should be getting processed; wait for the Bitcoin to be deposited into your bitcoin wallet. Depending on the Bitcoin ATM, this could take 5-30 minutes or a few hours.

How To Sell Bitcoin To A Bitcoin ATM

Some Bitcoin ATMs will purchase Bitcoins from you in exchange for cash, which is a good way to convert your Bitcoin into actual cash. However, the conversation rates may not be ideal as the Bitcoin ATM operator may be charging high rates for convenience.

  • — You may need to create an account on your Bitcoin ATM operator's website
  • — You may also be able to verify your identity in-person
  • — Find your local Bitcoin ATM
  • — Verify your identity on the Bitcoin ATM
  • — Indicate to the Bitcoin ATM that you want to sell Bitcoin.
  • — Input how much you want to sell, and you'll be given rates and an account to scan and send the Bitcoin to.
  • — Once you've completed the transaction, you'll need to wait for it to arrive in the companies Bitcoin wallet.
  • — Once received, your transaction will be completed, and cash will be dispensed.


Send Cash To Somebody Using A Bitcoin ATM

You may want to send cash to a friend, or a website is requesting Bitcoin as payment, and cash is your preferred option, so a Bitcoin ATM will allow you to send Cash, but that convenience has additional charges.

  • — You may need to create an account on your Bitcoin ATM operator's website
  • — You may also be able to verify your identity in-person
  • — Find your local Bitcoin ATM
  • — Verify your identity on the Bitcoin ATM
  • — Buy Bitcoin for the amount required
  • — Scan the QR code provided by your friend or company.
  • — Insert cash and wait for the transaction to complete.


Warnings About Bitcoin ATMs

Consider these four things when using Bitcoin ATMs.

  • — You can't reverse Bitcoin transactions.
  • — Don't private your private key to anybody or any Bitcoin ATM.
  • — Don't provide payment or feel pressured to buy anything in the Bitcoin ATM store.
  • — Your identity is recorded when transacting through a Bitcoin ATM, so don't make purchases for anybody else.


Bitcoin ATMs provide the ability to convert cash into Bitcoin, which can be helpful, but the fees are higher, and your details will still be recorded. You will get much better rates through CardtoCrypto and pay online.

cardtocrypto - how it works

Bitcoin ATM – Frequently Asked Questions

Providing below are some of the most frequently asked questions about Bitcoin ATMs.

How do you withdraw cash from a Bitcoin ATM?

Bitcoin ATMs are touchscreen devices that allow you to select buy or sell of various cryptocurrencies. You need to verify your identity, select sell Bitcoin, and then scan the Bitcoin wallet address for the company and then send the required Bitcoin. Once your transaction is completed, your cash will be dispensed.

Do Bitcoin ATMs accept debit and credit cards?

Some Bitcoin ATMs will accept debit cards and even credit cards. The fees may be higher for this type of transaction of ATM. Most Bitcoin ATMs don't accept this, so verify before going and wasting your time.

How do I buy Bitcoin from a Bitcoin ATM?

Bitcoin ATMs are touchscreen devices that you can select how much Bitcoin you want; you will scan your QR code to your Bitcoin wallet and then insert cash into the Bitcoin ATM 1 bill at a time.

Are Bitcoin ATMs safe to use?

Bitcoin ATMs are generally safe to use; however, realize that you are in a pubic space dealing with cash.

You should also be wary of dealing with Bitcoin ATMs that aren't run by reputable companies, so check reviews online for the company and location.

Comments (2)
Your comment
  • Alexa
    I can't wait to see when a Bitcoin ATM machine will maybe allow transactions with other, less known cryptocurrencies. Maybe something like IOTA, Komodo, Fusion or SOL. All seem to have potential and I, for one will be investing a bit of money in each. I'm glad to see more of these BTC ATM popping up everywhere, that's progress and I also want them to deal with more cryptocurrencies so the market grows faster.
    08 april 2022, 15:05
  • Martin H.
    Never used a Bitcoin ATM machine before. I don't even know where I would find one in my area but I'll ask around or use Google to search for a Bitcoin ATM near me. Would like to see how it all works. Come to think about it, this is probably the future. I think we will get ATMs that both work with money and with cryptos. It just sounds like the natural way to go in the future as more people come into the crypto space.

    I actually do understand why they may ask for different ways of verification. We can never be too safe when it comes to Bitcoin and crypto in general.
    07 april 2022, 17:45
    Buy & Sell Crypto by Credit Card. Simply.
    Just choose the best from the many offers.
    Minimum amount $150
    =( Ooops...
    Nothing was found for your request, check it for errors, or try to find something else...
    =( Ooops...
    Nothing was found for your request, check it for errors, or try to find something else...
      =( Ooops...
      Nothing was found for your request, check it for errors, or try to find something else...
      We use our own and third-party cookies to personalize content and to analyze web traffic.
      More about cookies