Nearly six years after the first Bitcoin ATM was installed in Vancouver, Canada the number of the cryptocurrency-dispensing machines across the world has risen to 5,006, according to Coin ATM Radar. In the last 60 days, an average of just under 6 Bitcoin ATMs were installed per day.
Has the US bitcoin ATM market reached saturation point?
Unsurprisingly, the U.S. leads in the number of crypto vending machines with over 3200 Bitcoin ATM locations. This is around 64 percent of the world’s total. Canada, which hosted the world’s first ever cryptocurrency dispensing machine, was second with over 680 locations.
In addition to Mexico and other countries in the region, North America now has over 74 percent of the world’s Bitcoin ATMs, hinting at the great deal of work the rest of the world has to do to catch up.
Interestingly, more crypto ATMs were installed in the months after cryptocurrency prices tumbled from their December 2017 high than the preceding four years. Since January 2018 over 3,000 crypto ATMs, or 60 percent of the current total, have been installed.
Sixth anniversary of the world’s first bitcoin atm coming in four months…
Assuming the current average rate of crypto ATM installation of approximately 5.6 machines per day holds, by the time the sixth anniversary of the world’s first Bitcoin ATM rolls by, there will be over 700 more cryptocurrency vending machines installed by then. The first bitcoin ATM was installed on October 29, 2013 at a coffee shop in downtown Vancouver.
— CBC Vancouver (@CBCVancouver) October 29, 2013
The manufacturer of the pioneering Bitcoin ATM was Robocoin. The firm was, however, unable to exploit the first-mover advantage to the maximum.
Currently, the leading cryptocurrency ATM manufacturer in terms of installations is General Bytes (1550 locations). Its followed by Genesis Coin (1497 locations and Lamassu (439 locations). Robocoin shut down operations three years ago.
Lots of hurdles remain for Bitcoin ATMs
The 5,000 Bitcoin ATM milestone has come at a time when there’s growing negative press on the devices over their role in aiding crypto scams. In Australia, for instance, Bitcoin ATMs are the ‘most common method of scam payment’, per the Australian Taxation Office.
In some places, law enforcement officers have had to issue warnings on scams next to the devices.
🚨The WPS Financial Crimes Unit has received numerous reports of frauds involving BITCOIN ATM's.🚨 Victims are being pressured by scammers to attend the machines and send bitcoins. REMINDER: Government agencies will NOT accept bitcoin. pic.twitter.com/kRfx2dSh1w
— Windsor Police (@WindsorPolice) June 17, 2019
Cryptocurrency ATMs have also faced hostility from authorities in some jurisdictions. In 2018’s Q4, for instance, what was to be India’s first Bitcoin ATM was seized by the police and founders of the company behind the vending machines arrested. This was on the grounds that the machines had not met the regulatory requirements.
And in September last year, Russian police seized 22 cryptocurrency ATMs following orders issued by Central Bank of the Russian Federation. This was with a view of conducting investigations following suspicions that the devices had been used in illegal financial activities.
The virus is spreading… not the good kind
Even the home of the World’s first cryptocurrecny ATM has not been immune to the temptation to crack down on the devices. Earlier this month Vancouver’s Mayor Kennedy Stewart proposed a ban on Crypto ATMs citing their role in money laundering and crypto-related fraud.
This did not pass by without a pushback though. Canada’s The Star stated the proposal was akin to ‘shooting mosquitoes with a shotgun’. Instead, the publication called for the city to work with ATM operators to finding solutions rather than banning the devices.