According to Forbes, the BitGive Foundation has recently updated its Bitcoin donation platform GiveTrack that was launched back in 2013. The San Francisco-based startup strives to bring transparency to charity with GiveTrack 1.0.
The history behind the project
BitGive is considered to be the first cryptocurrency-oriented charitable foundation that was launched back in 2013. Donors are able to put money into a given cause with the help of Bitcoin. GiveTrack was initially launched back in 2017. With GiveTrack, as the name of the platform suggests, you can follow all your donations in real time.
Of course, BitGive is not the only similar project out there, but it stands outs because of its relative simplicity – there are no baffling smart contracts or other tech perks. According to the company’s CEO Connie Gallippi, their main goal is to make crypto donations as approachable as possible.
Making donations transparent
GiveTrack is supposed to tackle the common problem of donation mismanagement by making sure that the money will be used for the intended cause. Until then, it was rather hard to curb corruption in this sphere, but BitGive makes it possible to keep track of every contribution and see its eventual effect with the help of Blockchain. U.Today recently reported about a New York-based zoo that also lets donors see the eventual result of their contribution (they will literally be able to witness how their tree is growing!).
Gallippi reveals that their launch of GiveTrack 1.0 conveniently coincided with a historic rise of cryptocurrencies, and that allowed her company to get top-dollar donations. Subsequently, they allowed BitGive to solve a slew of issues pertaining to the technical side of the project. On top of that, they also had to deal with regulations. The CEO of the five-year company feels overly enthusiastic about its future growth. However, she admits that the lack of regulatory clarity could be a hindrance.
Venezuela has been at the forefront of a cryptocurrency adoption wave as it is one of the few countries globally to have a government-backed coin, called the Petro. However, the Petro is just the tip of the iceberg for a continent that is having widespread economic issues.
Failing economies and hyperinflation across most of South America’s nations have seen an influx in trading volume for peer-to-peer site LocalBitcoins where individuals trade Bitcoin with one another as an alternative to their native currency.
So, while Venezuela may have the Petro, and their president’s desire to push it, there are a lot of citizens who are stocking up on a decentralized alternative in preparation for worse things to come.
A look at the current trading volume of LocalBitcoins in a number of South American countries shows an obvious influx, even more so than at Bitcoin’s peak in volume during the December 2017 crypto bubble.
In Venezuela, the spike only really began in March of 2018, when the South American country started to truly feel the hyperinflation of its native currency, the Bolivar, which added to other major social and political problems of the nation. Since March though, the figures have been growing exponentially as more and more people look to the decentralized site to stock up on an available currency of value. Currently, the trade is peaking at close to 1.25 billion bolivars, which is over 19 million US dollars, a serious sum, indeed, that the Venezuelans have invested in Bitcoin this October.
Similar situations in crisis countries
But, it is not just Venezuela that is seeing this influx in LocalBitcoins trading. Others, such as Argentina, whose Peso is also under threat at the moment with inflation striking it hard, have recently started to contribute to a giant surge in LocalBitcoins trading. Last week alone, the Argentinians put close to 8 million Argentine pesos into Bitcoin purchases, which is roughly a quarter of a million US dollars.
Bear in mind that here we are talking about Argentina’s average citizens residing in a country with a comparatively low standard of living. Undoubtedly, these figures are indicative of major local fiat to crypto movements, as they are, crucially, of Argentina’s willingness to re-enter the crypto market in a big way.
Along with the two aforementioned countries, this pattern is also clear in Colombia, Peru, and Chile, all of whom are struggling right now, having entered an economic crisis period with their local currencies becoming extremely frail.
After some far-reaching turmoil comprised of inflation and general socio-economic instability, the Colombians have also decided to join the crypto race and bought close to 8 billion pesos worth of Bitcoin this month, which is roughly 2.5 million US dollars.
This month’s Bitcoin purchases in another South American nation, Peru, are currently peaking at close to 3.5 million Peruvian sols, which is over 1 million USD, an impressive amount for those who support themselves mainly through agriculture.
Despite the fact that, compared to neighbours, Chile is considered to be a wealthier country with its standard of living approaching that of Spain, here, too, we see some local fiat to crypto movements. Likely as a result of the economic crisis that started last year, the Chileans spent close to 150 million pesos on Bitcoin last week, which is roughly the same figure as the one shown by Argentina, around a quarter of a million US dollars.
What comes next is yet to be seen. One thing is self-evident: as of today, South Americans seem to have more faith in cryptocurrency than the rapidly-becoming-valueless paper money issued by their Central Banks.
The number of Bitcoin ATMs is growing exponentially worldwide — from the US and Europe to inflation-stricken Latin American and African countries where many people remain unbanked. By 2023, the global ATM market is expected to reach $145 mln.
Obviously, many are trying to capitalize on this and start a Bitcoin ATM business. In this article, we are going to present you with a comprehensive guide on how to become a part of this competitive business niche in a snap. Most likely, you already know about the modus operandi of a Bitcoin ATM, therefore we will only focus on installing your own Bitcoin machine while shedding light on other tangible issues. After reading this article, you will find out how to start your own Bitcoin ATM business.
Before we begin, it is vital to mention the importance of regulatory compliance. In most countries, cryptocurrencies remain in a legal grey zone, and operating without a legal permission puts your business in jeopardy. Case in point: Unocoin, an Indian crypto-oriented company whose cofounders were swiftly arrested by local authorities after installing the country’s first BTC machine. If you live in the US, pay attention all the necessary regulations (given that 60 percent of all ATMs in the world are operating specifically in the US, we decided to specifically focus on this market).
The first universal requirement is to register as a money services business (MSB) with FinCEN. The process of registration is a no-brainer, but it’s an absolute must for all Bitcoin ATM providers since operating an ATM without being a statutory MSB is a federal crime that leads to imprisonment or huge fines.
On top of that, those who own a Bitcoin ATM are obliged to comply with ALM regulations by cooperating with a compliance officer and educating staff on possible ‘red flags’ that could indicate money laundering. There is also a place for KYC regulations — operators have to verify the identity of people who conduct the transaction, check whether a suspicious person is on a terrorist list, etc.
Complying with all these regulations may seem like a tedious and time-consuming task, but it is not that difficult: it won’t take more than an hour to cope with everything. Hence, young entrepreneurs aren’t supposed to be shooed away by such a long list of requirements.
NB! Apart from federal laws, US residents also have to comply with local laws that are determined by the state.
Finding a crypto-friendly bank
Dealing with banks, which represent the traditional sector of the financial industry, is yet another hindrance related to owning your own ATM. The truth is, not many banking institutions are willing to deal with crypto-oriented businesses, going as far as freezing the accounts of their owners. Case in point: Scott Snaith, CEO of 50cycles, whose private and business accounts were frozen after performing a sizeable transaction on a cryptocurrency exchange. This is hardly surprising since cryptocurrencies are supposed to replace centralized traditional banking institutions.
On the flip side, cooperating with cryptocurrency ATM operators is indeed deemed risky since it’s challenging to confirm the identity of the person who buys BTC with cash. That is why Bitcoin teller machines have a rather shady reputation since they are believed to be popular with unbanked people who have plenty of cash on their hands (thus, they are willing to shell out a sky-high fee).
Choosing your Bitcoin ATM
Now that we’ve covered legal issues, let’s focus on the stage where you have to purchase a Bitcoin ATM.
Remember that there are two kinds of Bitcoin ATMs: one-way machines and two-way machines. The former only allows customers to purchase Bitcoin. Statistically speaking, the lion’s share of such machines is one way (61.5 percent).
This is completely justified — only 10 percent of all Bitcoin ATM operations is attributed to selling crypto. However, the number of sell operations may grow exponentially during harsh market conditions, and it’s up to the operator to decide whether it’s reasonable to pay two times more to maximize the profit in the yo-yo market.
As Bitcoin was becoming more popular, Bitcoin ATM machines started popping around the globe just like Bitcoin ATM franchises (the obtaining of rights from a certain provider). Here are the top 5 cryptocurrency ATM manufacturers as of November.
Bitcoin ATM manufacturer
Number of locations
As you can see, Genesis Bitcoin ATMs are in the lead. The obvious question is why would anyone bother paying higher fees in order to use a bulky cryptocurrency ATM if there are exchanges with significantly lower fees? However, keep in mind that many people don’t have bank accounts, which prevents them from buying cash on Coinbase or any other fiat-to-crypto exchange. On top of that, LocalBitcoin is not for everyone since many people have safety concerns (a 24-year-old Norwegian, for instance, was brutally murdered while trading Bitcoin P2P). That’s why the market keeps growing along with the number of manufacturers/locations. On top of that, competition will soon lower fees.
Without a question, those who already own a retail business would want to place a Bitcoin machine in their place in order to create buzz and attract crypto-savvy customers.
What if you want to start an ATM business from scratch? Your obvious bet is public places with a high congestion of people. If you do not own the land, you are to have a lease agreement with the landowner (it could involve paying a flat rental fee or sharing profit with the owner of the land).
Dealing with tax issues
You have to determine the type of your business entity (limited liability company (LLC), corporation, etc.) depending on whether you own the business alone, or there are shareholders involved. It determines what kind of taxes you are supposed to pay. When it comes to LLC, the business owner (or a group of owners) is the one who is supposed to pay taxes. This is one of the legal basics that every ATM business owner should know about.
The fact that cryptocurrencies represent a new asset class doesn’t mean that businesses are given a free pass when it comes to paying taxes. Back in August, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) did a survey in order to determine what makes businesses install Bitcoin ATMs. As it turned out, most retailers said that their clients simply want to invest money in cryptocurrencies, but some of them also expressed concerns over possible wrongdoings.
Caring about your customers
No matter what business you are talking about, a robust customer support is the key to success. You don’t want negative publicity, right? Make sure to place your phone number and email in order to keep in touch with clients who might experience troubles buying or selling Bitcoin.
Once we’ve covered all necessary things related to installing your own Bitcoin ATM, it is necessary to determine all the expenses. Your seed capital depends on the following factors:
the type of hardware (we’ve covered different types of Bitcoin ATM machines that vary in price);
ATM manufacturer of your choice;
initial lending fee (if you are not a business owner already).
There are also many tangible expenses that are related to paying taxes, machine maintenance and so on. The most sizeable amount of your investment will be necessary for actually buying an ATM machine, and here you have two options — cash or crypto. Since Bitcoin’s price is currently hitting a snag, and the bearish trend continues, you might be walking on a thin ice. Back in 2013, the owner of the first Lamassu ATM (which was the very first Bitcoin ATM in America) paid 43 BTC for one machine that cost $5,000. If he had held Bitcoins one more year instead of spending them on an ATM machine, he would have witnessed a six-fold increase of his investment.
How much does a Bitcoin ATM cost? Genesis Coin machines tend to be the most expensive — you will have to shell out $6,800 for a one-way ATM. For comparison, a two-way machine produced by General Bytes comes at a similar price. However, the former places emphasis on functionality and offers more altcoins, including Litecoin and Dogecoin, so you have to buy this Bitcoin ATM if you want to offer your clients a full package.
Just like with expenses, there are numerous factors that influence the revenue of a Bitcoin ATM business, with location being the most important one. Obviously, crowded public places attract more customers, but be ready to foot a hefty bill.
Coinatmradar, the website that collects information about Bitcoin ATMs around the globe, states that an average Bitcoin ATM reaches a $30,000 monthly transaction volume. Given that an average buying fee is sitting at 8 percent, it is quite realistic to rake in $2,000 monthly with just one machine.
Use this profitability calculator in order to determine what return you are going to get on your initial investment (in includes numerous factors such as the number of transactions, the cost of BTC, fees, cash logistics, rental expenses, etc.).
Today, we bring you our version of the biggest crypto cities in the world. Two factors were taken into account when compiling this list : 1) the number of crypto companies in each city, as well as their influence on the global market, and 2) how widely crypto payments are accepted in the region. So, here they are listed alphabetically:
Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
With numerous Bitcoin ATMs and many merchants that accept Bitcoin as a legitimate form of payment, the capital of the Netherlands has by now also become one of the crypto hotspots of Europe. The Dutch city is home to at least 90 such businesses, as it is to the Bitcoin Embassy, one of Bitcoin’s major global promo establishments anywhere in the world. So, if you happen to be in town, there is now more than Van Gogh and Rembrandt to see and buy, RLD excluded.
Buenos Aires (Argentina)
With most South American economies in a state of financial uncertainty and terrible inflation, many are looking for alternative ways to store their wealth, or whatever is left of it. Here, the capital of Argentina is leading the way: the city is home to almost 150 businesses that accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. For this same reason, Argentina has also become a major player on LocalBitcoins, causing a boom on the platform. The first ever Bitcoin conference in Latin America was also held in Buenos Aires last year.
Hong Kong (China)
Hong Kong, while technically belonging to China, retains its vital political and financial independence from the mainland. While the crypto ban has made things very difficult in Shanghai and Beijing, Hong Kong is taking full advantage of its economic freedom by bringing crypto prosperity to business in all possible (and profitable) forms. Among the numerous successful crypto companies that Hong Kong can boast about are two major global players: Bitfinex and HitBTC, founded in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Many might not have even heard of Slovenia, let alone its capital Ljubljana; after all, it’s a small nation with a small capital. However, this city is a serious force to be reckoned with when it comes to the world of cryptography, Blockchain, and DLT: Ljubljana is home to the world’s first ever Bitcoin mall known as Bitcoin City, i.e. a shopping center where all vendors accept Bitcoin. The mall is an impressive 475 000 square meters in size, concurrently making it Slovenia’s largest shopping center of any kind. Major crypto firms, among them NiceHash and Bitstamp, are also based in the city.
New York (USA)
It is a well-known fact that New York is considered to be the world’s financial capital. When it comes to centralized finance, i.e. Wall Street and banking, there is hardly any rival that can challenge NYC’s dominance. When it comes to the world of decentralized finance, though, the city’s claim to power is yet to be made, after it manages to catch up with San Francisco’s arguably stronger output. Be that as it may, NYC is already home to more than 100 businesses that accept crypto payments, as it is to a number of major crypto companies, among them ConsenSys.
Prague (Czech Republic)
The capital of the Czech Republic may not have that much to offer, comparatively speaking, in the way of giant crypto companies which are on par with some of the other brands mentioned in this list. At least not yet. But what Prague is still lacking in quality, it is certainly making up in quantity, a pattern which is bound to eventually pay off. The city is growing in crypto adoption at a stunning rate, and for this reason it is currently ranked first by Forbes by number of businesses accepting crypto payments, more than 150, which is more than anywhere else in the world as of this year.
San Francisco (USA)
San Francisco may quite possibly be the most influential crypto city in the whole world. It has already established its reputation as a major tech hub, thanks to its proximity to Silicon Valley (around 40 miles). Now the city is also swiftly turning crypto on a huge scale: it is already home to many giants of the crypto game, among them such well-known brands as Ripple, Kraken, Coinbase, and Blockchain Capital. Furthermore, San Francisco is home to around 120 merchants that accept cryptocurrency and almost as many crypto ATMs. With such impressive stats, not many places can compete with this global crypto hotspot located in Northern California.
Singapore is a unique city-state. Known for its international trade and entrepreneurial vibe, it got involved in the crypto world early on and is now considered to be one of the most crypto friendly places on our planet. It is, of course, no coincidence that one of the current crypto trade leaders of the world, the exchange platform Huobi, proudly calls Singapore its home. Among many other crypto companies based here are Litecoin, Signum, NEO, and Virtuse.
The largest city in Canada is also one of the biggest crypto cities in the world, which, according to some sources, contains over 200 crypto ATMs within its borders, more than any other city in the world. This is in part because Canada’s progressive government is for the most part supportive of DLT, and hence most laws on ICOs and crypto startups are quite relaxed. This is also why Toronto is said to have as many businesses within its greater suburban area that accept digital currency as the Dutch capital, Amsterdam.
There is a very good reason why Zug is on our list, and it can be summed up in two words: Crypto Valley. The town located in central Switzerland is tiny. What is huge, however, is the amount of talent it contains and the number of crypto companies it hosts: over 300 of them from 20 different countries, including Buterin’s Ethereum. With the Swiss government being supportive of the Blockchain technology, the town is also home to the annual Crypto Valley Blockchain Summit, which is regularly visited by members of the European Parliament.
Despite some common beliefs, no one registers a cryptocurrency ticker (they are not protected under copyright law). It pertains to all known crypto tickers, including the ubiquitous BTC and ETH. They are perceived as the standard ones due to the fact that they come straight from Satoshi’s and Vitalik’s respective white papers.
For ICO issuers, it is a mundane practice to specify the name and the ticker of the token to avoid confusion. In order to list stocks, bonds or other securities on the NYSE, there is an approval process involved, but there are no geographical restrictions, which essentially means that the same ticker could work in another country. However, when it comes to the decentralized world of cryptocurrencies, it is not an easy feat — there are certain coins in the likes of Nimiq’s NET that fail to get listed on exchanges because it coincides with another cryptocurrency.
The tale of two Bitcoin tickers
Before Bitcoin hit the mainstream, the only existing Bitcoin ticker was BTC (the logical shorthand that doesn’t raise any additional questions). As mentioned above, the BTC ticker was created by Bitcoin’s elusive creator Satoshi Nakamoto, so there was no need to come up with another variant — everyone perfectly understands what BTC is.
So, what is XBT? When the popularity of the flagship currency started skyrocketing (along with its price), there was a need for a currency code, but the problem was that the ‘BTC’ ticker name actually violated the ISO 4217 standard. According to these rules, the first two letters of the currency symbol are supposed to represent the country (case in point: USD where ‘US’ stands for the United States). When it comes to Bitcoin, there was an issue with Bhutan — the ngultrum (BTN), the country’s national currency, created roadblocks given that its very first letters coincide with that of Bitcoin.
That eventually prompted the appearance of a brand-new Bitcoin code: XBT (it is still not considered to be the official ticker of Bitcoin). Apart from the vast majority of national currencies, ISO 4217 also provides codes for the so-called ‘super currencies’ that are not restricted to a certain currency and pose as a global medium of exchanging money. These currencies are also dubbed ‘X currencies’ due to the fact that they always begin with this very letter:
Why not XBC?
Given that Bitcoin is an international currency, it is now crystal clear why it starts with X, but the third letter of the new abbreviation might still seem rather confusing for uninitiated traders. XBC is by far the most obvious variant if you take into account the name of the currency (‘bit’ and ‘coin’). The answer is simple: there is already a currency with this ISO 4217 currency code that stands for a European Unit of Account.
The state of adoption
Now that you know the origin of the ‘XBT’ ticker (if you knew about its existence in the first place), let’s compare it with BTC, the old-timer that has been associated with Bitcoin since its very inception in 2008. For instance, if you want to google the price of Bitcoin, BTC is your best bet (however, the XBT cryptocurrency will work just fine as well).
There is no consensus between different cryptocurrency exchanges on what Bitcoin ticker should be universally accepted. For instance, Coinbase, a major San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange whose valuation has recently exceeded $8 bln, sticks to BTC. Meanwhile, Kraken, Coinbase’s biggest competitor in the fiat-to-crypto niche, was one of the first exchanges to give edge XBT edge over the more established abbreviation.
In a brief post, Kraken explains that establishing one common standard contradicts the idea of decentralization, which is why there is no officially accepted ticker. They claim that the Satoshi-proposed ticker enjoyed the widest use in the crypto space, but the new abbreviation is particularly important for cryptocurrency adoption since it places the fledgling asset class in gold as a global currency that is gradually gaining legitimacy.
Having a currency code in a centralized system may not seem like a big deal. However, it makes a world of difference when it comes to the Bitcoin adoption problem — the green light given by ICOs allows Bitcoin to enter the databases of major clearing networks (PayPal, SWIFT, etc.). Needless to say, the new ticker also boosted the recognition of Bitcoin on Wall Street (Bloomberg terminals were among the first to adopt the new XBT abbreviations).
After coming up with an alternative Bitcoin symbol, another top-level issue consists in determining subunits.
One XBT coin has eight subunits, but this is not the final division given that the number of decimals would have to increase over time. Still, only three subunits have managed to achieve mainstream adoption in the crypto space:
Value (of 1 BTC)
NB! Some exchanges have long been displaying BTC price in bits, leaving only two decimals on the right.
Things are getting even more complicated — prepare for more tickers
If you are dealing with huge economic sites such as the likes of Yahoo! Finance, you won’t likely see either of those abbreviations. They normally use the NYXBT ticker that represents the NYSE Bitcoin Index created by the New York Stock Exchange back in 2015.
It is worth mentioning that the index is not quite convenient for cryptocurrency traders since it updates only once a day (at 6 p.m. EST). Due to the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, the exchanges (Coinbase and others) that update data in real time would be by far a better choice. The current prices are also displayed on U.Today (at the very top of the website).
To make things even more confusing, there is one more ticker called $BCOIN that is specifically designed for the website StockTwits. Meanwhile, investors who trade Bitcoin on the stock market are certainly familiar with the Bitcoin Investment Trust ticker (GBTC). There is also yet another Bitcoin stock symbol, BITCF (it stands for First Bitcoin Capital Corp).
Remarkably enough, Bitcoin is not the only coin with multiple confusing tickers. Bitcoin Cash, the offspring of the world’s largest cryptocurrency, initially used the logical BCC symbol, but there was already the BitConnect token with the exact same symbol. Eventually, the BCH ticker symbol appeared, but some exchanges still stick to BCC.
Recently, it provoked a heated discussion on one of the biggest crypto-related subreddit, with users calling out Binance for failing to update the old symbol. Due to the big scope of the controversy, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao himself had to comment on the situation, claiming that the change of the ticker would cause at least a two-hour long trading halt.
“We felt the tradeoff is not worth it. Thank you for your understanding.” – CZ, the CEO of Binance.
One has to realize that both of these tickers are interchangeable, and both of them are here to stay. Hence, the BTC vs. XBT discussions are futile.
While BTC has already become a staple in Bitcoin’s community, XBT saw a wider adoption by traditional financial institutions along with some crypto exchanges such as the likes of Kraken