What is a Bitcoin ATM?

A Bitcoin ATM (Automated Teller Machine) is a machine that allows individuals to purchase or sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for cash. Bitcoin ATMs are similar in functionality to traditional ATMs, but instead of dispensing fiat currency, they dispense cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin ATMs work by allowing users to connect to the machine and make a transaction using cash. In a purchase transaction, the user inserts cash into the machine, and the machine then sends an equivalent amount of Bitcoin to the user's digital wallet. In a sell transaction, the user sends Bitcoin from their digital wallet to the machine, and the machine dispenses an equivalent amount of cash.

Bitcoin ATMs typically have high fees compared to traditional exchanges, but they offer a convenient way to buy or sell Bitcoin for those who do not have access to traditional exchanges or prefer not to use them. They also offer a level of privacy, as users do not need to provide personal information to purchase or sell Bitcoin.

Some Bitcoin ATMs also allow users to purchase other cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and more. Some ATMs also allow users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using debit cards.

Simplified Example

A Bitcoin ATM can be compared to a regular ATM machine, but instead of dispensing dollars, it dispenses Bitcoin. Just as a regular ATM machine allows you to deposit or withdraw money from your bank account, a Bitcoin ATM allows you to buy or sell Bitcoin using cash. And just as you need a bank card to access your money at a regular ATM machine, you need a Bitcoin wallet to access your Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM. In short, a Bitcoin ATM can be thought of as a specialized ATM machine that allows you to buy or sell Bitcoin using cash.

History of the Term Bitcoin ATM

The first Bitcoin ATM emerged in October 2013, marking a significant milestone in the adoption and accessibility of cryptocurrencies. Created by Robocoin and installed in Vancouver, Canada, this machine allowed users to exchange Canadian dollars for Bitcoin, simplifying the process of acquiring digital assets. Subsequently, Bitcoin ATMs rapidly expanded globally, with more models introduced by various companies like Lamassu and General Bytes. These ATMs enabled users to buy and sell Bitcoin and, in some cases, other cryptocurrencies, providing a tangible and user-friendly interface to interact with the digital currency world. Over the years, the number of Bitcoin ATMs has grown, fostering greater acceptance and familiarity with cryptocurrencies in everyday transactions.


Bitcoin kiosk: A bitcoin kiosk is similar to a bitcoin ATM, but typically has a simpler design and offers fewer features. It allows users to buy and sell bitcoin using cash, credit or debit cards, or other payment methods, and may also offer other digital assets like Ethereum or Litecoin. Bitcoin kiosks are often located in public places like shopping malls, convenience stores, or airports, and are designed to make buying and selling bitcoin more accessible to a wider range of people.

Bitcoin vending machine: A bitcoin vending machine is a type of self-service kiosk that allows users to purchase bitcoin or other digital assets using cash or credit/debit cards. Unlike a bitcoin ATM, which typically requires users to have a digital wallet, a bitcoin vending machine will often generate a paper wallet for the user to store their newly purchased digital assets. Bitcoin vending machines are often found in public places such as cafes, bars, and nightclubs.

Online exchange: An online exchange is a website or platform that allows users to buy and sell bitcoin and other digital assets. Unlike bitcoin ATMs, which are physical machines, online exchanges are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Users can fund their accounts with fiat currency or other cryptocurrencies and use the platform to buy or sell bitcoin at current market prices. Online exchanges often offer more advanced trading features, such as limit orders, margin trading, and trading charts, but may require users to undergo a more stringent verification process before they can start trading.

  • Exchange: Exchanges are the platform for trading cryptocurrency, allowing users to buy and sell different digital assets.

  • Huobi BTC: Huobi BTC is a cryptocurrency exchange run by Huobi, a global digital asset financial services provider founded in 2013.