Bitcoin is a digital asset and a payment system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto. Transactions are verified by network nodes through cryptography and recorded in a public dispersed ledger called a blockchain.
Bitcoin is unique in that there are a finite number of them: 21 million.
Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining. They can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services.
As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment.
Bitcoin ATMs were first installed in 2013 in Vancouver, Canada. The machines allow users to buy bitcoins with cash or sell bitcoins for cash.
As of August 2016, there were over 2,700 bitcoin ATMs worldwide.1 Bitcoin ATM machines are usually located in high-traffic areas like malls or Subway stations.
Some Bitcoin ATMs also allow users to buy other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Litecoin, or Dash.
To use a Bitcoin ATM, you first need to create an account with a Bitcoin wallet like Coinbase, Blockchain.info, or Xapo.
Once you have an account, you can use the ATM to withdraw cash or buy bitcoins.
When you want to buy bitcoins, you insert cash into the machine and an equivalent amount of bitcoins is deposited into your account. To withdraw cash, you enter your Bitcoin address and the machine dispenses cash.
The transaction is then recorded on the blockchain.