A Bitcoin ATM is an electronic banking device that allows one to purchase Bitcoins using fiat currency. Similar to traditional ATMs, there is no need for human intervention during the course of the transaction. Some Bitcoin ATM’s also allow one to sell one’s Bitcoin supply for cash, they are known as two-sided Bitcoin transaction ATMs.
The machine uses a palm scanner to access each Bitcoin owner’s account. Those who don’t have a Bitcoin account can create an account on the spot and exchange cash for the currency. The process takes about four minutes.
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The world’s first Bitcoin ATM to begin service was a Robocoin ATM operated by Bitcoiniacs. It was launched on October 29, 2013, in the Waves coffee shop in downtown Vancouver, Canada. In its first month of operation it handled over $1,000,000 CAD in transactions. The first one in the USA appeared in Albuquerque, New Mexico in February 2014. Machines have since been installed in Canada, Australia, Finland, Slovakia, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Mexico and Isreael .There are a number of other companies manufacturing Bitcoin ATM’s, such as Lamassu, Robocoin and BitAccess.
Bitcoin ATMs are exceptionally useful for international banking in “underbanked” parts of the world. This is because it allows online purchases by those who don’t have bank accounts or credit cards, or are otherwise unable to use them internationally. Travelers can also withdraw cash in local currency at competitive rates, without dependency on the traditional banking system.