Bitcoin ATMs, one of the most convenient and quickest ways to buy and sell cryptocurrency, has been seeing steady growth over the years. In the last two years, the number of Bitcoin ATMs operating around the world increased by 150%, reaching over 8,000 in June.
At the beginning of this year, this number was just above 6,346 and jumped about 29% in 2020 so far, as per Coinatmradar.
Initially, the number of Bitcoin ATM installations were slow but by the time 2017 came around and crypto experienced a bull rally that put it at the forefront of people’s minds, the installations picked up speed as well. And about 1,000 Bitcoin ATMs were being added every year.
Geographically, North America leads with more than 83% of market share as of June. The majority of Bitcoin ATMs are operating in the US, followed by Canada with 731 crypto ATMs, or 9.1% share.
Europe has the second-highest number of Bitcoin ATMs globally at 1,147 with the UK, Austria, and Switzerland being the leading countries in the region.
Meanwhile, manufacturer Genesis Coin accounts for 34.2% of the market followed by General Bytes.
But this growth in the sector has captured regulators’ attention. Ciphertrace’s report from earlier this month showed that 88% of funds sent by US Bitcoin ATMs to exchanges in 2019 were sent offshore — most of them being “high-risk” platforms. Such activities have doubled every year since 2017.
Ciphertrace CTO John Jeffries had said these crypt-cash machines will attract “greater…regulatory focus” to rein-in cross-border illicit financial transfers.
As fraud becomes more common, police are finding new ways to warn the public. Read how @RCMPAlberta started posting fraud alerts at Bitcoin ATMs across the province. https://t.co/CMbDvfORic pic.twitter.com/c6cfZDB6Sr
— RCMP (@rcmpgrcpolice) June 9, 2020
Just this month, Canada recognized crypto firms as Money Services Businesses that mostly impact these ATM operators.
About a year back, Spanish police pointed them as blind-spots after identifying that a local gang laundered about $10 million for Colombian drug traffickers using bitcoin ATMs.
Authorities are concerned that these automated teller machines provide a simple method of currency conversion that people are using for money laundering.
Last year, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also launched an investigation into illicit cases of cryptocurrencies and this year in March, the German Financial Market Authority (BaFin) took action against the unlicensed BATMs.