Cryptocurrency ATM the rise

The rejection of the Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF may have been interpreted as a blow to the cryptocurrency space, but easy access to buy and sell cryptocurrencies has never been so abundant. According to Coin ATM Radar, the number of bitcoin ATMs has been steadily increasing at a growth rate of 1.72 ATMs per day.

While bitcoin ATMs, or “BTMs,” make up the lion’s share of cryptocurrency dispensing machines across the globe, other currencies such as Ether (ETH), Dash, and Litecoin have started to become available as well.

One company that offers Ether (ETH) from its machines is LAMASSU, co-founded by brothers Josh and Zach Harvey of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Lamassu has stated that:

“Ethereum has some advantages over Bitcoin with crypto ATMs. Perhaps most important is the shorter confirmation times for cash-out transactions. While Bitcoin users must wait an average of 10 minutes before cashing out their cryptocurrency, Ethereum users should expect a considerably shorter wait time of 15 seconds.”

Bitcoin’s 10-minute block times have been at the crux of the  debate over the cryptocurrency, often cited as one of the main factors preventing its scalability. According to one blog, “[F]or many use cases even one confirmation is not enough; gambling sites and exchanges often need to wait for three to six blocks to appear, often taking over and hour, before a deposit is confirmed.”

With Ethereum, several different times and targeting algorithms were tested before block times were settled at the current rate of 15 seconds. As plans for the Ethereum blockchain to transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake advance, future block times could reach a level known as “near-instant-finality” (less than one second).  

Because Lamassu’s software is adaptable, cryptocurrencies like Ether (ETH), Zcash, and Digix can be supported by the company’s machines. Currently, Lamassu has 196 live machines across the globe, making up 18 percent of the total global market share.

Crypto California

When it comes to bitcoin ATMs, California reigns king. The Golden State currently has the most machines of any state in the US with 107 machines, making up approximately 10 percent of the world’s total. Coinsource, a major player in the bitcoin ATM game, recently added 14 new machines in Northern and Southern California, making the venture their largest ever multi-machine installation in any area.

Coinsource’s installation rate is up from 1.2 machines per week in 2016 to the current rate of 2.3 machines per week for a total of 39 units in the state. While the company claims to be a network that offers some of the lowest fees in the industry (average of 8%), the price for buying bitcoin at a Coinsource ATM is $1,342.47, approximately $100 more than the bitcoin price at the time of this article’s writing.

Additionally, most ATMs in the Coinsource network are “one-way” machines, meaning customers can only purchase bitcoin and cannot sell them. Two-way ATMs, which allow customers to sell bitcoin in exchange for fiat cash, globally represent only a third of the supply (35.41%), with one-way ATMs representing almost two thirds (64.59%).

Inevitable Expansion

As blockchains like Ethereum and others gain in market cap and popularity, crypto ATM’s will need to offer currency options alongside bitcoin if they plan on staying abreast of the competition. Michael Portabello, spokesperson for Coinucopia, Lamassu’s largest ATM operator in the US, said:

“Our customers have been requesting the ability to buy Ether, and we’re proud to announce that we have been working closely with the talented people at Lamassu to provide this functionality to the communities that we serve.” 

Los Silva is a writer and filmmaker who has collaborated with tech and design companies. His interest in Ethereum stems from emerging creative applications that allow artists control of their work through blockchain technology.
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