Tucked into corners of grocery stores, gas stations and transit hubs, crypto ATMs are part of the “critical infrastructure industry” still allowed to operate amid the coronavirus contagion event. And some are thriving.
With blockchain-based payments apps and entertainment platforms seeing a boost in users with people spending more time online, crypto and bitcoin ATMs, the physical manifestation of this network, seem an unlikely adjunct to this market growth.
Despite wide-reaching shelter-in-place rulings meant to keep people indoors, some bitcoin ATM operators are reporting an increase in transactions, while others are taking advantage of this intermission to expand their networks.
Perhaps people are scared and are prepping in the most immediate way: the nearest ATM. Bitcoin-related Google searches are skyrocketing, but for the many intimidated by the world of wallets, private keys and QR codes, bitcoin ATMs (sometimes called BTMs) provide a convenient onramp to these “safe haven” assets.
“Even during a global pandemic, and perhaps more so, Bitcoin and Bitcoin point-of-sale services meet our customers’ essential needs in participating in this next-generation of banking, remittance, and e-commerce,” Marc Grens, co-founder of DigitalMint, a Bitcoin ATM operator, said over email.
Approximately 95 percent of DigitalMint machines are located in or outside of essential businesses and still accessible to the public. While the firm has seen a “slight decline” in overall volumes, Grens said, “we’re still driving a consistent amount of new and existing customer traffic, even during the lockdown.”
Since March, DigitalMint has expanded its kiosk and teller services to a few dozen new locations in Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. According to Coin ATM Radar, the total number of ATMs has increased 5.6 percent to 7,417 machines on April 1, up from 7,023 on March 1.