The number of bitcoin ATMs worldwide have hit a two-year low.
Over the past year, the number of bitcoin ATMs available has declined by 7,000, or 17%, leaving a total of 32,500 machines as of this month, according to a Thursday (Oct. 19) report from Coindesk. This decrease follows a previous increase from 34,500 ATMs at the end of 2021.
The U.S., which hosts the largest number of bitcoin ATMs, has experienced the most significant drop in installations. With about 26,700 machines in the country, this decline is noteworthy. Despite the decrease, the U.S. still boasts nearly 18 times the number of bitcoin ATMs compared to the entire European region, which hosts around 1,500 machines, the report noted.
A factor for the decline is the controversy surrounding the potential use for crime, Coindesk said. One example is scammers who exploit platforms like eBay, urging buyers to deposit funds into specific bitcoin wallets through ATMs. Once the funds are deposited, the scammers vanish, leaving buyers at a loss.
Brandon Mintz, CEO and founder of Bitcoin Depot, suggested to Coindesk that the decline is also due to operators shutting down unprofitable ATMs or going out of business entirely. Mintz said he viewed this trend as an opportunity for his company to expand its market share through acquisitions and kiosk growth in additional retail locations.
The decreasing number of bitcoin ATMs raises concerns about their future and role within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. While controversies surrounding their potential use for illicit activities may have contributed to the decline, market forces and profitability concerns are likely playing a role as well.
Crypto ATM operator Cash Cloud was one company that was not able to weather the shift.
In February, the company filed for bankruptcy, PYMNTS reported.
The firm, which did business as Coin Cloud, had assets between $50 million and $100 million, liabilities between $100 million and $500 million, and creditors numbering between 5,000 and 10,000, according to a Feb. 7 filing.
The company had over 5,000 Coin Cloud ATMs in 47 states across the U.S. as well as Brazil at the time. Its ATMs allowed users to buy and sell bitcoin, ethereum, dogecoin, shiba inu and 40 other cryptocurrencies with cash or card.