What is a Bitcoin ATM?

What is a Bitcoin ATM?
A Bitcoin ATM is a physical terminal used to exchange fiat currencies for Bitcoin and/or other cryptocurrencies. Some Bitcoin ATMs or sometimes referred to as BTMs for Bitcoin Teller Machine and are capable of making two way exchanges so you can either buy or sell bitcoin for fiat at a physical terminal.

Bitcoin ATMs Are All Around the World

Bitcoin ATMs offer a unique interface with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general because of their familiarity with consumers. Most people are familiar with a standard ATM for getting cash with their debit card in countries all around the world. I have used my bank card to withdraw cash in probably about a dozen countries and the process is pretty much the same everywhere I go. Bitcoin ATMs offer a similar on-ramp in that they are something that people are relatively familiar with using and this absolutely helps to bring new users into the bitcoin space.

Why use Bitcoin ATMs?

Bitcoin AMTs often offer a couple of advantages over buying from an exchange or using peer-to-peer services to buy or sell bitcoin.

Bitcoin ATMs are about as instant as they come. When you use a bitcoin ATM, you simply insert fiat and with just a couple taps on screen, you have bitcoin sent to your wallet moments later. This is as simple and easy as it comes in the bitcoin space.

Bitcoin ATMs also typically offer more privacy than dealing with any sort of large centralized exchange. While most ATMs in the US will require some sort of personal information, other terminals around the world offer more privacy for their users.

Unfortunately, the biggest downside of using bitcoin ATMs that that the convenience often comes with a premium price tag and most ATM operators often charge premiums well above 10%. Regardless of the premium price tag, people still use them to buy and sell and what’s even more interesting is that the placement of new bitcoin ATMs is still growing. There are probably even pretty good number of ATMs that are not publicly listed and operate on more of a peer-to-peer network of users.

Where Can I Find a Bitcoin ATM?

The best resource online for all things related to bitcoin ATMs is a service named Coin ATM Radar. Their service helps users not only locate the ATMs nearest to them but also gives information on fees, hours of operation, type of ATM terminal and some other useful pieces of information about each terminal on their map.

Additional Info on Bitcoin ATMs

Bitcoin ATMs are often talked about in bitcoin related news publications. Here are some articles that might help you to better understand how bitcoin ATMs are being used around the world and possibly learn more about the opportunity to operate a bitcoin ATM yourself.

Global Bitcoin ATM Proliferation Nearly Doubled in May 2017

How to Start Your Own Bitcoin ATM Business

Bitcoin ATMs Popping Up Across the US

Bitlish Plans to Open 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs in Europe

What is a bitcoin term that you would like us to further define for you? Let us know with a comment below or tweet us @WhatIsBitcoin.

Donate Bitcoin

What is a Bitcoin Exchange?

What is a Bitcoin Exchange?
A Bitcoin Exchange or Digital Currency Exchange is a business that allows customers to trade digital currencies for other assets such as conventional fiat money or other digital currencies. Different bitcoin exchanges around the world are what sets the price of Bitcoin.

Types of Bitcoin Exchanges

Since bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are all completely digital there are a number of different types of bitcoin exchanges and many different ways to buy and sell bitcoin. Some exchanges are for buying bitcoin with cash while others are for buying with an ACH transfer directly from your bank account and others are exclusively for trading digital currencies similar to a forex market.

If you want some bitcoin to experiment with or to save for years down the road, you are likely going to use a bitcoin exchange that sells bitcoins directly to end users. Here are the most popular exchanges for getting bitcoins both for personal use or for speculation purposes. Some of these are for buying directly, while others are trading platforms for day trading bitcoin against other cryptocurrencies.


Based in San Francisco, California, Coinbase is the oldest and largest bitcoin exchange in the United States for business to consumer bitcoin sales. To purchase bitcoin from Coinbase, you will need to initiate an ACH transfer directly from your bank account. Coinbase charges a premium of 1% for both buy and sell orders.


Based in Switzerland, ShapeShift is exclusively for trading bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with other active users around the world. What I like (and probably most other users) the most about shapeshift is their focus on user privacy. No accounts or logins are required to trade on shapeshift. All you need is since these transactions are “on chain” you will need to pay a transaction fee for each transaction.

In my personal opinion, ShapeShift is probably the best cryptocurrency exchange in the world.

Bitcoin “ATMs” or BTMs

Bitcoin ATMs or “Bitcoin Teller Machines” are one of the easiest and quickest ways to purchase bitcoin with cash. I think that most of these terminals are one way terminals for buying bitcoin only but some of them are two-way machines so you can both buy and sell bitcoin. Bitcoin ATMs are incredibly convenient because of their speed but they often charge high fees. Premiums of 10-20% over spot price are very common. If you would like to buy some bitcoin using a BTM, you can use Coin ATM Radar to locate the nearest bitcoin ATM.

Local Bitcoins

Local Bitcoins is one of the oldest and most trusted place to buy and sell bitcoins. LBTC is a peer-to-peer marketplace for exchanging bitcoins with other bitcoin users. Payment mechanisms range from bank wire transfers to face to face meetings with cash payments. When large trading platforms go down or are shut down by governments, users usually resort to trading here on local bitcoins. Be careful on here since there are lots of scams and fraud.

Wall of Coins

Based in Sarasota, Florida, Wall of Coins is a great way to both buy and sell bitcoin with cash deposits into the bank accounts. The process usually takes about 30 minutes from when you start the trade to when you have your bitcoins but the premiums on here can get pretty steep. You can expect to pay about 20%+ over spot price for the convenience and privacy.


Paxful is on of tne of the most prominent bitcoin exchanges in the world for selling at a premium and allowing the largest number of payment mechanisms, Paxful is a the premiums on here are the highest I have ever seen ranging from 20%+ to well over 100%. There are a lot of scammers and fraud on here so be careful when buying or selling from users without a lot of good ratings/reviews.

Bitcoin Trading Platforms

Not all bitcoin exchanges are for buying bitcoins to hold yourself. Some bitcoin exchanges are strictly for speculating on the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to make a profit. These sorts of trading platforms are almost always custodial (they control your bitcoins) and usually have much lower premiums than the consumer exchanges listed above. These fees are usually around .1% to .25% for each trade that you make. Let’s take a look at some of these exchanges around the world.


Based in Deleware, Poloniex has more currency pairs than any other custodial exchange in the world.


Based in Seattle Washington, BitTrex is one of the largest trading platforms in the US.


Based in San Francisco, California, Kracken is a trading platform with roughly 30 different currency pairs. You can trade bitcoin against USD as well as a number of different cryptocurrency combinations.


BitFinex has the largest bitcoin volume of trades against the US Dollar so it is often the most trustworthy place to get the price of bitcoin from since it is the most stable on this exchange. Here on BitFinex, you can trade bitcoin against a few other cryptocurrencies and also USD.


That pretty much sums up all of the different types of bitcoin exchanges around the world. With all of these different ways to buy and sell bitcoin, there is no shortage of ways to turn a profit in the bitcoins space or just to hodl some of your own coins for years in the future. No matter what you plan on doing in the bitcoin space, there are a multitude of services there to help spread bitcoin across the globe.

What is a bitcoin term that you would like us to further define for you? Let us know with a comment below or tweet at @WhatIsBitcoin.

Donate Bitcoin

10 Bitcoin Privacy Enhancing Tools

Bitcoin Privacy Enhancing Tools

One of the driving forces behind bitcoin adoption is its amazing privacy features. The ability to store and transact value without your identity directly attached to your money or spending greatly increases your individual freedom and personal privacy. While not all bitcoin services and tools protect your privacy as much as others, using these 10 tools will help to increase your own privacy, the privacy of the entire bitcoin network and also increase bitcoin’s utility around the world.


Brave, a web browser for a better internet

Brave is a new privacy focused web browser that is going to change the way we browse the web as well as how publishers monetize content. Brave creates a safer browsing experience by blocking ads and trackers that violate your privacy and slow down your browsing experience. Brave also converts all http connections to https connections for more secure browsing. But Brave’s most revolutionary feature is something called Brave Payments. This allows content viewers to directly contribute to site publishers and also block ads and trackers. The end result is users seeing less ads and publishers make more money than they would if the monetize their site with Google AdSense. Brave has the potential to change the way publishers monetize their online content.


ShapeShift is probably one of the biggest names in the bitcoin space because it enables anyone who already accepts bitcoin to seamlessly accept all of the other cryptocurrencies without any personal information. ShapeShift is integrated into a number of services like CoinCap.io, OpenBazaar, KeepKey and others. If you don’t already use ShapeShift, you should be.


OpenBazaar is the one and only e.commerce platform of its kind. It is a distributed network which means that none of the product listings are stored on any single centralized server. This means that your listings cannot easily be censored or shut down. What makes OpenBazaar even more awesome is that you can only pay using cryptocurrency. OpenBazaar also recently integrated ShapeShift so that buyers can pay with the cryptocurrency of their choice and the seller receives bitcoin. OpenBazaar will compete with eBay, Amazon, Fiverr, UpWork and dozens of other online retail sites.


Blockonomics is my personal favorite block explorer. Their landing page has a simple call to action to enter a bitcoin address or transaction ID so you can view the history of any given address or transaction. You can also use blockonomics to create invoices that are pegged to fiat currencies so if you accept payments, you do not have to worry about volatility issues because you are always invoicing in a fiat currency. In my opinion, blockonomics has potential to become one of the most useful bitcoin tools in the world.

Anonymous Ads

Have you ever wanted to put ads onto your website but the whole signup process with Google AdSense requires too much of your personal information? Well, now you can have ads on your site in a couple minutes with no usernames or logins. Anonymous Ads allows you to select an ad size and then you just paste a bitcoin address to receive payments without giving up any of your personal information. Users also have the option of creating an account if they so chose. You can create an ad in about a minute. This is what their 748×90 ad looks like:

Money Badger

Money Badger

Money Badger is a service that enables you to send bitcoin to people via phone number or e.mail address without revealing yourself as the sender. This service is primarily for incentivizing people to learn about bitcoin. You also have the option to have your funds returned in seven days if the recipient chooses not to claim them. I predict that MoneyBadger will integrate ShapeShift so that you can send any a cryptocurrency of your choice and the recipient will receive bitcoin.


RushWallet is a web wallet that can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection and doesn’t require any personal information. You just go to the website and move your mouse or finger around to create a random string of numbers and letters to generate your private key. Once you have done this for about 10 seconds, you have a public key which you can accept bitcoin. No app downloads, or logins. Just pure math based freedom. It is one of the best services for new users to learn about public and private keys with the least amount friction.


BitAddress is probably the best way to generate paper wallets in the least amount of time. Paper wallets are very important for bitcoin security because they are the least vulnerable to being hacked. Paper wallets are not stored online so hackers and cybercriminals cannot access them via the internet. This means that each paper wallet that you generate is its own little swiss bank account that can fit in your pocket.

Piper Wallet

Piper Wallet was the first hardware wallet to offer offline paper wallet creation. This simple device is just a RasperryPi computer that attaches to a printer for generating paper wallets at the push of a button. Since this computer is never connected to the internet, it is one of the most secure and private ways to make your own cold storage wallets anywhere in the world regardless of whether or not you have an internet connection.

Bread Wallet

Bread Wallet is a mobile wallet and it is without doubt the cleanest user interface in the entire bitcoin space. It does not require any personal information of any kind to send, receive or store funds. No usernames, passwords, phone numbers, e.mail addresses. Just pure bitcoin privacy on a mobile device. If you are looking for a wallet for your phone, look no further than Bread Wallet.

Do you know of some other bitcoin tools or services that increase privacy? Let us know with a comment below.

Donate Bitcoin