Several important issues accompanied the early excitement in Bitcoin (BTC). Many of them involved mass adoption and regulatory concerns. Both of these matters greatly impacted public perception. For example, the media often fails to accurately portray security flaws at fiat-based exchanges vs. blockchain transactions. As regulations become clearer, we see an increasing number of crypto companies offering more complete financial services; like those that compliment ATM networks. This enables secure applications for storing both cryptocurrencies and fiat in one place.
The Rapidly Growing Demand for UK Bitcoin ATMs
ATMs are a staple of modern society. They provide us with quick cash and can be found even at the most meagre commercial districts. This securely puts money in our hands. For the cryptocurrency industry, ATMs represent something real. They are often the first physical interaction with BTC. We get to hold our keys and know no other one like it exists.
The first blockchain has a storied past. Bitcoin is riddled with controversy and heated debates over regulatory policies. Still, its technological innovation and meaningful adoption has never wavered. Today, we see unparalleled advancements in user-friendly applications, like those occurring across ATM networks. As of the beginning of September 2019, the price of BTC stabilized over $10,000. This is a key price mark. It is about half of its all-time high.
The Introduction of Bitcoin ATMs
In 2014, we saw the first BTC cash machine launched. The technology was rather simple. Costing just $5,000, the machine combined the tablet technology of a Google Nexus 7 with the hardware needed to scan QR codes. Even then, we could use a QR enabled mobile app to securely access and transfer our BTC.
At the time, the first cash machines were limited in their services. They needed to be manually stocked. Fees are an issue today as they were then. In 2014, this amounted to about 8 percent with monthly transaction limits at £1,000. However, innovations like the Lightning Network promise to significantly reduce the costs associated with using crypto ATM’s. Automation and secure printing innovations are quickly advanced.
The Variability of Crypto ATM Designs
BTC ATMs are designed for convenience. They are growing in demand and have varied use cases. More ATMs are arising to reach more consumers than ever before. Supportive technologies innovate at a rapid pace. Still, issues like awareness, mass adoption and looming regulation remain hurdles.
Crypto ATMs are not at the level of conventional fiat machines. Many of them do not offer withdrawal and sending services together. While it is hard to imagine this being an issue once someone becomes accustomed to the ease of online BTC transactions, it becomes understandable when considering that UK Bitcoin ATMs may be locally managed. As BTC ATMs begin to accept crypto debit cards, the underlying technology should advance. However, crypto debit cards are themselves still in their infancy.
There are a variety of uses cases for BTC ATMs. These include:
- securing and authenticating purchases of large amounts of BTC
- streamlining single service machines
- connectivity services
- acceptance of BTC debit cards
For authenticated purchases, users may be required to meet KYC verification. This can include providing a phone number, entering a code sent via text message, and/or scanning identification documents at an ATM. Such requirements may not always be initiated by the company providing ATM services. For example, higher amounts of BTC incur stricter regulations. As the demand for cryptocurrencies grows, we should see an associated advancement and diversity of services in these machines.
Increased Demand for Bitcoin ATMs
According to Coin ATM Radar, there are 270 BTC ATMs/Tellers located throughout the United Kingdom. They are dispersed across 41 cities. The top five cities for UK BitcoinATMs, along with the number of machines in service, are listed below:
- London – 165
- Manchester – 23
- Birmingham – 22
- Cardiff – 8
- Brighton – 4
Notice the great disparity from major cities to small business districts. It is a trend driven by what was once a close-knit cryptocurrency community. Overall, the current global distribution map provided by Coin ATM Radar lists 5,529 various BTC ATMs in 74 countries. 42 producers and 549 operators are responsible for delivering well over 100,000 other services.
As awareness and adoption grow, crypto ATM should become more universally distributed. London will, of course, remain the UK leader of ATM locations, but over time, the distribution map should resemble that of conventional fiat ATMs. This would mean that all business districts, large and small, as well as, major residential areas, will one day have access to their crypto via secure ATMs.
Evolving UK Crypto Regulatory Policy
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is responsible for protecting consumers and the integrity of financial markets. UK businesses have been asking regulators for clarification of crypto policies as early as 2014. Ambiguous leadership has plagued the industry and daily B2B transactions, as well as, inhibited innovation.
More recently, the FCA stated its findings of major cryptocurrencies like BTC and Ether. They have been used in a decentralized manner with the primary purpose as a medium of exchange. As for other types of digital assets, regulations are less clear. Both security and utility tokens fall under regulatory authority according to the FCA. This is because they provide rights and obligations that are similar to existing investment instruments.
For UK Bitcoin ATMs the recent statements made by the FCA can be considered both good and bad news. On the one hand, it clears the way for mass adoption and for machines to combine dual fiat/BTC services. On the other hand, it establishes limits for more diversified crypto applications. More detailed information is provided in the agenda outlined for the Cryptoassets Taskforce. This is a joint effort by the FCA, HM Treasury, and the Bank of England.