It’s interesting to note that over two billion people don’t have the privilege to access banking services. This is a international problem because access to banking is linked to economic empowerment. Without banking it’s difficult to save or borrow money, generate wealth, or run a business.
For this reason, Satoshi Nakamoto created the digital currency, bitcoin. He created the digital tokens as a peer-to-peer currency. Nakamoto recognized that while banks play an important role as a catalyst for prosperity and growth, they aren’t the only way growth can be achieved. Nakamoto saw a future in which the middle-men were cut out of the equation and banking services could be offered to the people without access to banking services.
While that vision may sound lofty, it’s actually already taking place in the way of cryptocurrency ATMs. Wzzm13.com reports that many people without bank accounts are using the ATMs as holding accounts.
WZZM13 reported, “Why would anyone anywhere — let alone someone living in a financially challenged community — walk into a gas station to buy bitcoin? Are people treating the Bitcoin ATMs as quick way to make fast cash? Another lottery machine? In a high-crime area might it be a money-laundering haven?
Andy Attisha, the owner of the Shell station in Oak Park, Michigan said the Bitcoin ATM at local stores offers a financial convenience for some people.
‘People who use the machine most likely don’t have bank accounts,’ Attisha, a convenient store manager, said. Attisha said he’s paid a rental fee to have the Bitcoin ATMs — run by Slon BTM — at his stores in Oak Park and an Exxon station in Wixom.
‘Some people bring in a wad of cash to put into the Bitcoin ATMs,’ Attisha says, ‘speculating they may be using it as a place to store their money — and later withdraw it when they need to pay bills.’
The official reason given by some industry leaders for placing Bitcoin ATMs in struggling neighborhoods is that the ATMs target those without bank accounts.
Low-income households are the most likely to manage their money by using financial services outside of the traditional banking system — turning to check cashing stores and payday lenders. Some are shut out of traditional banking services after a string of bounced checks and other troubles.
The ability to buy bitcoin via a digital wallet is a way to convert cash into a digital account.”
While many expected crypto ATMs to be immediately adopted in everyday transactions or be used by criminals to hide or launder money, it seems that these ATMs are generally playing a much different role than expected. The crypto ATMs may actually fulfill the role that Nakamoto originally set out to do and eradicate worldwide poverty and give everyone access to banking services. It’s a crazy goal, but hey, isn’t that the mantra of bitcoin?