Cryptocurrency ATMs Popping Up Across Latin America!

Paraguay purchases Argentine products with Bitcoins
Paraguay purchases Argentine products with Bitcoins

Written by: Patricio Ortiz

Contxto – Cryptocurrency, the well known, ultra-hyped asset class, has reached another peak in Latin America.

Although Bitcoin and other major currencies fell to a bottom-low price last year, the hype does not seem to slow down.

On their fight to become something more than a speculative trade, and more of a day-to-day transactional medium of exchange, a new trend has been emerging slowly but steadily: Crypto ATMs.

Currently, there are over 4,000 Crypto ATMs around the globe, and they have been installed one by one since 2013. However, nowadays almost six new machines are being installed on a daily basis.

Latin America seems to be quite excited about this new change. Rapid growth in the region has been seen lately, as these countries now represent 1.7% of the total ATMs worldwide.

Crypto ATMs Among Us

Opening ATMs for this asset type, is getting more and more common in Latin America, for the hard-believer community still has faith in mass adoption within the general population.

At least for the current cryptocurrency users, this is great news since they now have a way to transact and interact with cryptos in the real world, and have “cash at hand” through these well known Automated Teller Machines.

Let’s Back up a Bit

BATMs, as they are most commonly known, have been spreading all around the
world since they first debuted in 2013, in Canada. The first one was installed by the ATM manufacturer, Robocoin, in a Vancouver coffee shop.

Source: Self-elaboration with Coin ATM Radar data

Since then, Bitcoin ATMs and some other Crypto-ATMs have been appearing here and there trying to fulfill the mission of making cryptos more purposeful in our daily lives.

The world’s first Bitcoin ATM in Vancouver, 2013 (Reuters)

Athena Bitcoin, a US-based company, is leading the BATM race for Latin America.

By the end of 2018, they managed to open 22 devices across Argentina and Colombia, being this last one, the country with the greatest number.

People are more open to cryptos here [in Colombia]– and in neighboring Venezuela – than in other Latin American nations.

Athena Bitcoin

There are plenty of reasons that can be attributed to the increase in people’s interest in these devices.

For example, the economic crisis in Venezuela forced people to protect themselves from hyperinflation and the authoritarian government by looking for alternative assets and gaining access to them. They’re basically hedging with cryptos. Interesting, huh?

Mass adoption in developed cities as a new way to pay, fund or even distribute equity, as well as sending remittances back to their home countries, safely and effectively, is another major trend.

Here are the Top 5 Latin American countries that host the largest amount of crypto ATMs:

1. Colombia

With 27 machines, Colombia has the most amount of Crypto BATMs.

Bogotá dominates the region with 15 installed machines, followed by Medellín (5), Cali (4), Barranquilla (1), La Hormiga (1) and Pereira (1).

2. Mexico

There are 11 ATMs in Mexico, distributed across seven different cities: Mexico City (4), Tijuana (2), Guadalajara (1), Culiacán (1), Monterrey (1), Querétaro (1) and Silao (1).

3. Dominican Republic

With 9 BATMs, the Dominican Republic falls in 3rd place. Santo Domingo has 6 of them, while Santiago de los Caballeros has 3.

4. Argentina

Following closely, Argentina’s 8 are located exclusively in Buenos Aires.

5. Ecuador

In Ecuador we can find 3 BATMs: 2 in Quito and 1 in Tena.

Cash is King? Think Again.

Currently, The US has the most BATMs in the world with nearly 2,500.

According to the biggest crypto-ATM tracker, there are currently 4,155 crypto ATMs in 75 countries around the world.

These devices are manufactured by over 40 producers and operated by more than 500 companies.

What Can We Expect Next?

Following the crypto storyline of volatility, surprise, dramatism and spontaneous changes, the BATMs are bringing hope to the new asset class while they pop up around the world trying to connect these currencies to our daily lives and make them more fungible and “tangible”.

The currency’s characteristic of decentralization is already helping immigrants from Venezuela get paid in Bitcoin and convert them to fiat money in Colombia. Certainly, other people will find a way to benefit from these currencies in real-life situations.

Although access is still limited, the trend is growing at an unexpectedly fast rate, leveraging existing technologies such as smartphones, ATMs, and e-wallets. This growth rate is certainly faster than what regulators are able to handle at the moment, so we’re still waiting for governments to take action on these matters.

However, if the needs of the people keep matching the solutions blockchain is able to provide, it wouldn’t be surprising if crypto overtook fiat money sooner than we think.


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