Are BTMs Really “Big Time Magnets” for Criminal Activity? (Part 1)

Are BTMs for Criminals, or Alpaca Farmers?
Coin Cloud Team
, published on 
May 12, 2020
Are BTMs Really “Big Time Magnets” for Criminal Activity? (Part 1)

Do BTMs Attract Criminals? BTMs are Bitcoin Teller Machines (also known as Bitcoin ATMs). But in the eyes of many, BTM should probably stand for “Big Time Magnet,” or even “Bad Thug Magnet,” because all they do is attract criminal activity, right?

You’d be surprised, actually. We talked to Raquel Shingleton, VP of Compliance and Chris McAlary, CEO of Coin Cloud, to get the real scoop.

“We ensure that the company is compliant Federally, state and local level,” explains Shingleton. “We research business license requirements. We will determine MTL (Money Transmission Law) applicability and we will enforce our robust AML (Anti-Money Laundering) program.”

That program was designed to prevent criminals from using Coin Cloud services. “I know that some people think that Bitcoin isn't traceable, but that's just simply not true,” Shingleton says. “We use Blockchain Forensic Tools where we can trace the wallet address. So, we know where the address came from and we know where the address went, and this is really helpful for us so that we can ensure that the wallet address isn't associated with any illegal activity.”

In actuality, “Bitcoin is much better than cash in terms of preventing illicit activity,” McAlary insists. As more blockchain analysis tools are developed, that fact is becoming increasingly accepted by law enforcement, regulators, the general public … and criminals.

As a result, only approximately 1% of all Coin Cloud BTM activity is criminal. And the other 99%? It’s pretty boring stuff, like buying socks.

How Do People Use Bitcoin?

“I would say our customers primarily use it to remit money to friends, family, buy things on the internet you actually can't buy otherwise through a credit card or with cash,” says McAlary. “One of the first things I bought with Bitcoin was alpaca socks from Peruvian villagers. Because they don't have credit card processing machines there, and you can directly send it to this person's wallet.” All the vendor needs in her little village in the Andes Mountains is internet access to be paid this way.

Obviously, you don’t have to use an ATM to send Bitcoin to someone, but it’s still the first choice for many. “A lot of customers find our interface to be little bit more trusting and easier to use than an online cryptocurrency brokerage, and so we see people walk up and just invest and buy their first Bitcoin and get set up with their first wallet,” McAlary explains.

Other options can take several days to complete, due to bank transfer processes or requirements for multiple forms of ID that can’t be vetted in a timely manner. In contrast, Coin Cloud BTMs are fast and easy, with a real-time physical transaction and an immediate cash-in-hand payout. “Our customer support is there to make sure that our customers have success and are happy with the product, and so our sort of hands-on convenience and ability to do quick transactions is really why our customers love us,” says McAlary.

Who Uses BTMs?

But who are these customers? “We see all walks of life at our machine. What is sort of counterintuitive is that most people perceive the Bitcoin user to be a young, tech-savvy male who is an early adopter,” McAlary explains. “That's widely true of Bitcoin usage generally. But in terms of who is actually using the Bitcoin ATM product, it actually skews older and female because we think that user base actually finds more familiarity and convenience as their top priorities when using Bitcoin.”

“My grandma doesn't want to set up an online cryptocurrency brokerage account. She wants to access the Bitcoin but she just doesn't want to go through that process and our product makes that very, very easy,” he continues. “It's not only for the young, tech savvy people, it's for everybody.”

To be continued …

Disclaimer: The information and views supplied on the Coin Cloud blog are for educational and entertainment purposes only. We are not financial advisors, so please do your research and consult with a trusted financial specialist before investing your money.

What is Coin Cloud?

Founded in 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Coin Cloud is the leading digital currency machine (DCM) operator. With over 4,500 locations nationwide, in 48 states and Brazil, Coin Cloud operates the world’s largest and fastest-growing network of 100% two-way DCMs, a more advanced version of the Bitcoin ATM. Every Coin Cloud DCM empowers you to quickly and easily buy and sell over 40 cryptocurrency options with cash.

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