Matias Goldenhörn, the director of Latin American operations at Athena Bitcoin, an ATM operator, claims that Bitcoin ATMs are “becoming a real alternative to banks.”
The director stated this news to CoinDesk, going to on to say that “the machines have proven resilient to the price fluctuations.” According to Coin ATM Radar, these machines are performing fantastically. There are currently 4,213 crypto ATMs across the world. A majority only offer Bitcoin, but this number is significantly higher than the 471 machines in place back in January of 2015.
Since these ATMs offer other digital assets, users finally have a way to access altcoins in a manner aside from crypto exchanges.
According to Jorge Farias, CEO of digital asset startup Cryptobuyer, “educational initiatives” in Latin America are causing citizens to demand additional assets such as Dash. In fact, in Venezuela, some of these groups are even giving away small amounts of crypto to help out citizens suffering from the miserable economy within the country. This struggle is leading Farias to open Venezuela’s first ever Bitcoin ATM this February, launching it in Caracas.
Fortunately, he plans to support Bitcoin and other cryptoassets on top of it. The device is already read, but Farias believes that both the demand for Bitcoin and the current unrest in the country must calm down before launch. Co-founder of ATM retailer BitAccess, Moe Adham, spoke to CoinDesk on the matter:
“If you earn some other cryptocurrencies through one of these decentralized networks, you can cash it out. The bitcoin ATM industry is kind of coming into its own now. … We can provide access to different cryptos with bitcoin as the settlement layer.”
Essentially, these machines are ideal because they provide near-instantaneous access to digital assets. This is a process that is usually incredibly difficult for traditional users to pick up. Because we’re approaching a time where crypto is more accessible than ever, it’s entirely possible that these machines will see great success.
However, it’s important to note that most Bitcoin ATMs are only available in North America. That said, demand within the Latin American market is growing at an unprecedented rate. Goldenhörn claims that Athena Bitcoin made around $3 million in profit last year from just 25 machines within the space. Right now, the Chicago-based crypto startup is looking to raise $7 million to move 150 Bitcoin ATMs into Latin America across this year.
A Market in Demand
Other spaces are looking into the area as well. Farias established six Bitcoin ATMs in Panama thanks to funding from Invictus Capital – a South African venture capital firm. Farias looks to “build a transactional network” with Lamassu, General Bytes, and MercadoLibre.
Additionally, Cryptobuyer wants to place ten additional ATMs in Argentina, 10 in Mexico, and 10 in Venezuela this year. The demand is high thanks to a wide array of unbanked citizens, says Farias:
“The focus right now is on Mexico and Argentina, which have major immigrant populations from Venezuela. This lady of 65 years came to one of our [Panama] locations one day with a piece of paper, a QR code printed, and she said to use that her son in Venezuela said with this paper I can send him money.”
In related news, BitAccess is looking to add support for 70 tokens throughout its offerings. Adham revealed that excusing Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Tron were in high demand from their users. He added that 2018 was the first year BitAccess saw that despite Bitcoin’s volatility, demand for these assets was high:
“The price was decreasing but demand was increasing month over month.”
In fact, both the demand and the usage of these machines went up over 9 percent in just November of 2018. We can only hope that the addition of extra devices will increase the demand and accessibility of digital assets.