Crypto ATMs have played a critical role in facilitating the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. Over the last year, they have seen a significant decrease in their numbers. In January and February of 2023, the total number of cryptocurrency ATMs installed globally fell by 412 machines.
While the total number of crypto ATMs had been headed in an upward direction over the last nine years, the bear market has had an immediate impact on the growth of crypto ATMs.
The total crypto ATM installations saw a net decline in September 2022 for the first time in history. In January 2023, the number of global crypto ATMs decreased by nearly 300 machines, and lost another 123 machines in February.
The ongoing decline was initially a result of geopolitical uncertainty and a prolonged bear market leading to a loss of revenue, but service providers have been trying out more affordable alternatives to continue operating under more difficult circumstances. Bitcoin Depot, a crypto ATM provider, converted its 7,000 physical machines to BitAccess software, reducing operational costs by $3 million annually. Meanwhile, Mastercard partnered with Binance to launch a card for crypto payments in Latin America, offering up to 8% cashback in crypto on eligible purchases and zero fees on some ATM withdrawals.
Although the drop in crypto ATM installations may seem concerning, the shift towards cheaper alternatives is a positive development for the future of crypto adoption. The move towards more affordable operations could make crypto more accessible to a wider range of people, particularly in developing countries where the cost of operating crypto ATMs can be prohibitive.
The partnership between Mastercard and Binance also represents a significant milestone in the adoption of cryptocurrencies. Payments are one of the most obvious use cases for crypto, and adoption has room to grow. As more partnerships like this emerge, the ease of using crypto for day-to-day transactions will increase, and the need for physical crypto ATMs may decrease.