Money Mystery

Who the Hell Is Using the World’s 5,000 Crypto ATMs?

The machines are spreading across the globe like a plague.

6. 26. 19 by Kristin Houser
Shutterstock/Victor Tangermann
Image by Shutterstock/Victor Tangermann

Multiplying Machines

The world’s first cryptocurrency ATM opened for business in a Canadian coffee shop on October 29, 2013, and by the end of the day, 81 people had visited the novel machine to trade their cash for bitcoin or vice versa.

This month, the number of crypto ATMs worldwide passed the 5,000 mark, according to data from CoinATMRadar, which begs the question: Who the hell is actually using these things?

Crypto ATMs

Based on CoinATMRadar’s data, the most basic answer to that question is “Americans.”

Roughly 80 nations now boast at least one crypto ATM, but with 3,177 machines, the U.S. is home to the vast majority. In fact, it has nearly three times as many crypto ATMs as the next three countries — Canada (680), Austria (263), and the United Kingdom (245) — combined.

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The reason people visit these ATMs varies by nation, and that also yields insights into their user demographics

“In the U.S., our clients predominantly use our machines to buy bitcoin,” Matias Goldenhörn, director of Latin America operations for ATM operator Athena Bitcoin, told CoinDesk in January. “In Colombia for example, it’s the other way around, people use the ATM to withdraw cash.”

Scam Stations

So, based on all that, it appears the people most likely to use crypto ATMs are Americans with at least enough money to invest some of it in crypto.

But the machines have also drawn another user demographic: scam victims.

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In November, Kath Anderson, assistant commissioner at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), warned Australians that scammers had been using “aggressive tactics” to convince people they owed a tax debt. Their favorite means of receiving payment? Crypto ATMs.

And that’s just one of the ways scammers are using the machines. As pointed out in an Athena Bitcoin blog post, bad actors are also impersonating the Social Security Administration and various utilities companies and then demanding debt payment via crypto ATM.

“Scammers using Bitcoin will often ‘helpfully’ point out nearby ATMs from which you can send them money,” Athena wrote, noting that these scammers “like Bitcoin because transactions cannot be cancelled, reversed, or otherwise refunded once broadcast.”

READ MORE: There Are Now More Than 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs Around the World [CoinTelegraph]

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More on crypto scams: Researchers Inadvertently Discover Crypto Scam Involving 15,000 Twitter Bots


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