How to start a bitcoin ATM business

According to our bitcoin ATM industry stats, there is a growing number of bitcoin ATM installations worldwide. If someone wants to run his own bitcoin ATM or install a bitcoin machine at existing local business, what are the main points to check and decisions to make beforehand? The following article tries to answer these questions.

Start a business


With all developments in Bitcoin area over last couple of years one thing became more prominent — regulation. Bitcoin ATM business is not an exception. In many jurisdictions you need to get special licenses like MSB or others in order to conduct such a business. Running a bitcoin ATM without complying with law might end up bad. So the main point to start investigating in case you would like to run a bitcoin ATM — is the legal framework for such activities in your region.

If you are in U.S. — the following two articles written by Aaron Williams could be a good starting point: Bitcoin ATM regulation 101 and 102. Legal framework really depends on your location, so consult with a local lawyer first.

While running a bitcoin ATM on your own might require a lot of investment in legal field, e.g. creating your KYC/AML compliance policy, obtaining proper legal licenses, there is still a cheaper way — find existing bitcoin ATM operator in your area, approach and suggest a collaboration, so that you work under their legal licenses umbrella. In order to find operators around you — check our bitcoin machine locations map, for majority of listings operator information is provided.

Bank relationships

In order to operate a bitcoin ATM you need to have a bank account. There were some ideas to build an “unbanked” bitcoin ATM, however, it is more of a nice to have solution, but not practical nowadays (there are some bitcoin machines with bill recyclers, but no special software available which will dynamically define the buy/sell prices based on cash/bitcoin balances, also local demand is limited, and bitcoin ATM has a very small user-base compared to online services accessible everywhere, which might result in wrong price discovery at particular machine).

By having a buy only bitcoin machine — you definitely will need to organize cash delivery to the bank, and make wire transfers from bank account to exchange in order to replenish bitcoin balance. The reality is that not many banks wish to have customers related to any “bitcoin business”. So it is good to check available options in advance and the best practice to have several relationships to eliminate the potential risk of closing account by one bank. As an example, the bitcoin ATM operator in New Zealand had to close his business due to lack support from bank sector, although the company was compliant with all legal requirements.


If you are the owner of a brick-n-mortar business — this is not a question to consider as you probably would like to place it at your location. Placing a bitcoin ATM might increase foot-traffic to your store and this is additional revenue stream for the shop. According to information from other owners who installed a bitcoin ATM, it can increase sales up to 10-30% because of new customers, who come to use a bitcoin ATM.

If you are a local business owner who wants to have a bitcoin ATM, but doesn’t want to have all the hassle with running a machine — you can also approach operators close to you and suggest your location. From private discussions with operators — it is always hard to find a good bitcoin-friendly location, so highly probable you can find someone who will put a bitcoin ATM in your store.

However, if you plan to run a bitcoin ATM yourself, you need to find a good location for it. Important factors to consider are: traffic volume, availability/accessibility (easy way to find, public location), open hours (the longer the better), business type.

Here is the list of top 5 bitcoin ATM location types according to the stats we collect on the site:

  • Restaurant/pizzeria 12%
  • Cafe/coffee shop/gelateria – 9%
  • BTC embassy / company office – 7%
  • Shopping mall – 7%
  • Supermarket / food store / Deli – 6%

So all are mostly high-traffic businesses, where people go daily.

Bitcoin ATM type

The next question is which bitcoin ATM type to chose. There are broad categories like one-way or two-way, for example. So if you would like not only to allow customers to buy bitcoins, but also sell bitcoins then you need to look for a more expensive two-way solutions. According to the number of installations worldwide — 42% of all bitcoin machines are two-way, and 58% are one-way only.

According to information from operators, there is not an even split between buy and sell operations at the moment with pure dominance of buy operations (90% buy vs. 10% sell on average). However, during huge price swings, e.g. recent one in October 2015, the user behavior might change a lot. Many operators reported fall in volume of buy bitcoin operations, and sell operations increased drastically (making volume ratio of about 50/50). So not to lose opportunities on the harsh market it is better to provide both options, however, in “normal” times just a one-way bitcoin ATM can provide a steady income as well. We are still in the “enter bitcoin” phase for average Joe.

Here is a list of top bitcoin ATM providers on the market at the moment, which can be recommend. All of the providers have a long tracked positive history on the market:

  • Lamassu — provides one-way solution Douro ($6.5K), additionally Santo Tirso stand can be purchased to make it two-way for $5.5K making the total cost of two-way Lamassu solution of $12K.
  • Genesis Coin — provides one-way solution Satoshi1 for $6.8K and a two-way Satoshi2 machine for $2.1K on top of one-way price. There is also old Genesis1 for $14.5K.
  • BitAccess — provides a two-way bitcoin ATM machine for $7K.
  • General Bytes — provides a one-way bitcoin ATM called BATMTwo for 2849 USD and two-way bitcoin ATM BATMThreeL (basic version) for $7K.
  • BitXatm — provides a two-way solution on the market for EUR 4.6K.

Price-wise the cheapest are General Bytes for one-way solution and BitXatm for two-way machine. However, the features may vary and it is really required to look at all options to choose a proper one that will fit your needs.

Robocoin and Skyhook although have a substantial number of installations worldwide are no more recommended due to business risks associated with the companies behind.

Volume and Fee size

In order to start new business one needs to do profitability calculation in advance and have at least rough business plan. CoinATMRadar provides a Bitcoin ATM profitability calculator by using which you can easily define approximate costs and calculate ROI with detailed report.

There are two blog posts avaialble with more advanced info: theoretical profitability calculations and real examples of how much volume do bitcoin ATMs bring to operators at different locations.

The following are average metrics on the market (based on discussion with operators):

  • In order to reach planned volume it takes about 6 months with marketing and advertising of a location. So it is very important to keep machine at the same location. [Edit: based on infromation from operators the standard location volume is usually reached faster — 1-2 months from installation, for details read the article on Revenue, costs and profitability of a bitcoin ATM]
  • Average normal monthly volume of a bitcoin ATM is about $30K. It may vary, but this figure is quite realistic in our opinion, which can be used as a basis for forecasts starting month 6.
  • Average bitcoin ATM fees are now at 5.5% for sell operations and 7.5% for buy operations.

So to set it up probably some average values can be used initially. In order to attract users operators might suggest lower rates, sometimes even 0% commission. In this case you need to find a way to buy cheap bitcoins, e.g. directly from miners with discount.

Proper customer support services

When you run a bitcoin ATM it is very important to provide best services to customers. Operator has to monitor whether machine is operational and bitcoin funds are in place etc. Negative publicity spreads pretty quickly.

Both email and phone should be provided on the machine. We recommend to make it available also on our site’s listing.

Recently implemented bitcoin ATM voting functionality allows to track customers’ feedback. As an operator you can place a printed QR with link to your machine listing on our site (check link on bitcoin ATM page) in order to gather more reviews and monitor status of the machine closely.

These are the main questions one needs to investigate and answer before running a bitcoin ATM. If you have something we missed — please write in comments and we will update the article.

Check our twitter account @CoinATMRadar for more updates on bitcoin ATM topic.

22 thoughts on “How to start a bitcoin ATM business

    1. Hi Chad, thanks for your question. It depends on many factors. I sent you a follow up email with further questions, then I can advise you better on what fits you the most.

      1. Hi Deepa,

        I think the easiest for you is to find an operator, who’d like to place one of their machines at your location. Just look around, who operates in your area and approach them.

        I think Instacoin has many machines there, so they might want to install one more at your place.

    1. Hi Pao, thanks for your question.

      Start-up costs varies heavily and depend on many factors, mostly how bitcoin ATM business is regulated in your country and whether you are able to establish bank relationships.

      Also it depends on what kind of machine you plan to use costs for machine purchase vary from $3-8K. There are many activities / payments to be done during the process of running a machine, like renting a place, cash collection services, of course if you do it yourself and put machine at your store – there are no costs for this.

      You can find a Bitcoin ATM profitability calculator useful.

  1. This is interesting. I just used one of these out of town.

    My question is concerning the profit potential, both current and future growth. Are there any sources with data relating to these statistics? Not just number of new ATM’s but more specific to average revenue per machine. Thanks

    1. Here is a list of ATM locations with some monthly volumes reported.

      Generally you can take $20-30K as a volume per month from a machine for estimations after a half year of operation. From discussion with operators this is a realistic figure nowadays. Recent rise of bitcoin price – brought some additional volume.

      Also if you have a great location and properly promoted it – volume can be higher.

      Profit is a subjective thing as it depends on many factors. Just to name several: your fees size, how you organize stuff, e.g. take care of cashing out machine yourself or hire someone, do you pay to location owner, or place it at your own location, legal fees might vary depend on country significantly, as well as within the same country, e.g. different states in the U.S. etc.

      Bitcoin ATM business is not an easy one as there is no huge margin and competition present already and it is not a way to make a quick buck, but if you have an interest in it and opportunity to start you bitcoin machine and potentially a network of ATM later on – definitely worth a try. Check this blog, will publish some useful figures soon.

  2. Hi,

    Would like to have an idea if an ATM machine can be set to calculate on any other currency from dollars?.

    Can it work in africa?.

    1. Hi Amuda,

      Depends on the country in Africa and machine type. E.g. there is already an operational bitcoin machine in South Africa, which accepts ZAR cash notes (South African Rand) and dispenses bitcoins. So you need to approach different manufacturers and ask about whether they support particular cash notes you want to have. But it is highly probable that there is a machine type that will support your needed currency.

    1. Hi Ryan, this is a very broad question and answer depends on so many different factors.

      I plan to write an article on the costs estimations for running a bitcoin ATM, so check the blog periodically.

      Meanwhile, you can contact me by email and will try to help you for your particular case (

      UPD: Here is a post about Revenue and costs of running a bitcoin ATM.

  3. REALLY have difficulty getting answers concerning regulations in NC about bitcoin atm operation. Any GOOD links you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Chris,

      First of all I’m not a lawyer and don’t take what I write here as a legal advice. You need to consult with a lawyer before entering this space. I can put you in contact with ones specializing in the industry.

      Generally as a bitcoin ATM operator you need to register with FinCEN on federal level (which is quite an easy process). Moreover, you need to check state level legislation.

      As some states have marked that bitcoin ATM businesses are exempt from money transmitter license, I don’t know it is the case with NC.

      What I found is:

      More interesting FAQ section here:

      Q: Are virtual currency exchangers and administrators regulated under the NC MTA?

      A: It depends. A virtual currency exchanger is a person that exchanges virtual currency for fiat currency or other virtual currencies, and vice versa. An exchanger that sells its own stock of virtual currency is generally not considered a virtual currency transmitter under the NC MTA. In contrast, an exchanger that holds customer funds while arranging a satisfactory buy/sell order with a third party, and transmits virtual currency and fiat currency between buyer and seller, will typically be considered a virtual currency transmitter.

      So it looks like it depends on how you operate your bitcoin ATM. If you set it and can prove that customer who feeds cash into machine receives bitcoin from your hot wallet – then you are exempt from this license. But again you need to consult with knowledgeable agent.

  4. I am having difficulty getting two separate attorneys in the Denver area to reply to my emails, voicemails, etc. I am interested in getting legal advice as I consider getting into the bitcoin ATM business. I’d rather piggy back on someone in the industry, currently, but know nobody doing so personally.

    I saw in an earlier post that you might be able to assist in making a connection with an attorney. Not sure if you are familiar with Denver area but any assistance would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Hi Joe, you need to do the same as in other countries. General steps are provided in the post you are commenting to. If you have any particular questions — feel free to ask here or by email.

    1. Hi Suley,

      Just as a side note, it is not the first bitcoin ATM in Turkey, there was one back in early days of bitcoin ATM industry (I think back in 2013) installed at one of airports

      The company planned to install many others, but plans didn’t realize and this machine was removed, or bitcoin purchase option was removed.

      Anyway, if you want to start operating a bitcoin ATM you need to think about several steps in advance, they are summarized in the article above, but here is a short version for you:

      – Legal aspect: you need to understand what legal requirements applies to you, how you need to register and what licenses you need to obtain prior to operating bitcoin machines.

      – Money flow plan: you need to think how you are going to convert received cash from customers to BTC and vice versa in case of 2-way machine. In case you want to have a bank account and wire funds to exchange – then you need to find a bank first. Alternatively you might find some direct cash to BTC ways if you are unbanked. But in any case – you need to have this organized beforehand.

      – Location where you plan to install machine, it is good to have agreement before you get your machine. Sometimes it is not easy to find a good location.

      – Actual purchasing of machine, installation, supplying liquidity and starting the business. This is the simplest part probably. Costs of different machines you can find on our site (check manufacturers page or contacting particular providers.

      Hope to see bitcoin ATMs in Turkey soon 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *