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Bitcoin ATM’s: What they mean for the future of fund withdrawals

Since the last half of 2021, Bitcoin (BTC) has recorded milestones, including El Salvador’s adoption of the cryptocurrency as a legal tender.

Earlier this year, Uruguay became the 11th South American country to further embrace cryptocurrency by deploying its first Bitcoin ATM in the tourist city of Punta del Este. The government fully funded this project in partnership with the local crypto companies; URUBit and inBierto. Now, the people of Uruguay purchase and sell any of these five cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Binance Coin (BNB0, two in-house cryptocurrencies, Ferret Token (FRT), and URUBit (URUB), and Binance USD (BUSD).

 This followed after an Uruguayan senator, Juan Sartori, introduced a bill last year. The bill sought to regulate the use of cryptocurrency and encourage businesses to accept payments in the form of crypto. The senator emphasised not adopting crypto as a legal tender like El Salvador, but suggested the establishment of legal and safe use of cryptocurrencies in businesses.

With the latest addition of Uruguay’s Bitcoin ATM, there are 80 Bitcoin ATMs in the continent, with Colombia accounting for nearly half of the figure. North America is the leading continent with over 40,000 BTC ATMs.

In terms of physical appearance, Bitcoin ATMs are similar to conventional ATMs. However, they differ in terms of application; conventional ATMs allow cash withdrawal and deposit, while Bitcoin ATMs allow users to purchase and sell Bitcoin using cash. Also, Bitcoin ATMs are not linked to bank accounts. Instead, they are linked to a specific crypto exchange via the internet. The exchange facilitates the sale of digital currencies.

These ATMs are designed so that anyone can use them, especially crypto beginners. The physical similarity to conventional ATMs makes them familiar to new users. The simplicity of the process has also been a huge point of attraction. You can easily get started with your name, digital wallet, and cellphone number. In addition,  ATM transactions are quick and highly secure; you don’t have to give away too much personal detail.

Uruguay’s public adoption of the Bitcoin ATM is certainly a point in favour of cryptocurrency amidst Europe’s crypto ban and other countries’ regulations that have been stifling the growth and worldwide adoption of digital currencies. However, there have been reports of a decline in crypto ATM installations this year. So far, about 1800 crypto ATMs have been installed worldwide compared to over 2000 ATMs installed last year in the same timeframe.

This, however, seems to be a slow start with El Salvador’s plans to deploy 1500 crypto ATMs across the country. Regardless, the crypto ATM market estimated to grow by over $500 million by 2027 might suffer slow growth and find it hard to maintain its upward trajectory. Crypto-friendly countries are reaching their saturation points regarding how many crypto ATMs and Bitcoin ATMs they can install. This possible stunt in the growth of digital currency ATMs can be prevented if more countries ease their strict cryptocurrency laws and speed up the adoption process.  

The good news is that, in a few years, the Gulf region might very well join the league of crypto-friendly regions. Just this week, Binance, the world’s largest and most popular cryptocurrency exchange, received a licence from Bahrain’s Central Bank. This licence allows it to function as a crypto-asset service provider in the country. The crypto exchange is also building its presence in the neighbouring Gulf country of the United Arab Emirates.

If other countries, whether in the Gulf or other regions, adopt Bitcoin and other digital currencies like El-Salvador or take it slowly, following in Uruguay’s steps. In that case, a future with cryptocurrency at its optimum potential can be realised faster than predicted.

Crypto and Bitcoin ATMs are proof of how we can integrate digital currencies into our financial systems. Cryptocurrency is here to stay, and while Bitcoin is the most prominent, installing more crypto ATMs can ensure the survival of other digital currencies. Although relatively novel in the context of global financial systems, crypto ATMs will go a long way in securing the future of cryptocurrency.  

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