While the crypto industry grapples with increased scrutiny and regulatory pressure, the crypto ATM business is experiencing a surprising boom. These machines, often criticized for facilitating money laundering, continue to gain popularity.
Standing Strong Amid Legal Turmoil
The recent legal troubles of Sam Bankman-Fried and calls for crypto regulation haven’t deterred the crypto ATM sector. Operators of these machines argue that they provide a means for regular individuals to convert fiat money into cryptocurrencies, akin to traditional bank ATMs. Some, like the Shitcoins Club, even assert that they help people “bypass the banking system.” Notably, the firm refused to provide further insight, claiming misalignment with traditional financial system interests.
Crypto ATMs have drawn regulatory attention in the US and the UK, with the Financial Conduct Authority cracking down on these machines. Although their numbers have decreased since their 2022 peak, new installations are still occurring. As of October 2023, AltIndex reports the existence of 32,521 crypto ATMs globally, with figures on the rise since the summer.
Anti-Banking Stance and Offshore Operations
Companies like Bitgamo, based in Luxembourg, embrace an anti-banking philosophy, harkening back to crypto’s early ideals. Bitgamo operates a virtual crypto ATM, allowing users to convert tokens to cash online without the need for KYC, AML, or registration. In cases where local regulations are unfriendly to crypto, Bitgamo offers to send money from an “Offshore Bank Account” unrelated to cryptocurrency.
Gabriel Weber, the director of communications at Bitgamo, acknowledges their stance: “Crypto is about privacy, we support Satoshi’s idea. We are focusing on supporting privacy.” Bitgamo plans to launch approximately 90 physical ATMs in the coming year.
Despite the broader market’s challenges, the crypto ATM sector is flourishing. Bitgamo reports more than 50 million daily transactions and is actively expanding its operations.