According to Finbold, a total of 686 Bitcoin ATMs were installed globally in March 2022 as the number rose from 36,023 on March 1 to 36,709 by April 1. Those figures point out that 22 Bitcoin ATMs were added daily in March alone.
Bitcoin ATMs are put in place by industry actors to facilitate ease in transactions as cryptocurrency adoption becomes more widespread. The number of Bitcoin machines installed over time continues to grow YoY.
The United States has witnessed the most Bitcoin ATM installations. The expanding number of Bitcoin ATMs in operation demonstrates how important the machines are becoming as cryptocurrencies gain popularity and acceptance worldwide.
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A Bitcoin ATM was first seen on October 29, 2013, when a Robocoin machine opened in the Waves coffee shop in downtown Vancouver, Canada. This machine is understood to be the world’s first publicly available Bitcoin ATM but ceased operations in January 2016.
A bitcoin ATM is an Internet-connected kiosk that allows customers purchase bitcoins and/or other cryptocurrencies with deposited cash.
A bitcoin ATM is not the same as an automated teller machine (ATM) that allows bank customers to physically withdraw, deposit, or transfer funds in one’s bank account. Rather, bitcoin ATMs produce blockchain-based transactions that send cryptocurrencies to the user’s digital wallet, often via the use of a QR code.
Buyers will typically scan a quick response (QR) code corresponding to their own bitcoin wallet address, to which purchased coins are transferred. If the buyer does not yet have a wallet, a new one can be generated.
Customers are charged a service fee for using a bitcoin ATM. This fee is typically charged as a percentage of the transaction rather than a fixed fiat value.
Bitcoin ATMs are rarely operated by major financial institutions and do not connect customers to a bank account. They are more likely to be owned and operated by companies focused on the cryptocurrency industry.
Bitcoin ATMs in Africa
Currently, North America is the continent with the most number of bitcoin ATMs, followed by Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and Africa.
As Africa continues to play an integral role in the adoption of cryptocurrencies, the continent is also seeing its fair share of development in the availability of bitcoin ATMs.
Africa has 15 of them installed. Seven in South Africa, two in Ghana, one in Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Djibouti, and Uganda.
The seven bitcoin ATMs in South Africa are spread across five cities. Cape Town is first with three ATMs, Pretoria is second with two ATMs, and Johannesburg and Nelspruit have a single Bitcoin ATM each. Ghana bitcoin ATMs are located in the same location in Accra. Thunder Solutions, a local IT firm runs these ATMs.
The only bitcoin ATM in Uganda is in Kampala. Zimbabwe ATM is based in Harare. The Botswana ATM is located at the Airport Junction Mall in Gaborone. Djibouti’s ATM is located at the Appart Hôtel Moulk. BitClub Network runs the only Bitcoin ATM in Kenya, located in Nairobi.
The only Bitcoin ATM in the largest cryptocurrency market in Africa, Nigeria, was launched in 2020. It was installed by Blockstale and is based in Lagos, at Dazey Lounge and Bar, Ajah.
The shortage and unavailability of Bitcoin ATMs in Africa compared to other regions of the world can be attributed to the unhealthy disposition of African governments towards crypto. A plethora of countries on the continent have banned crypto completely while some place it under ‘regulation’.
With ongoing development and the springing up of several ambitious startups on the continent, it will be exciting to see what the future holds.
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