In addition to online trading venues, cryptocurrencies have also been available in vending machines for some time – including in Stuttgart. A self-experiment shows how the purchase of the digital currency works.
No, using a Bitcoin ATM is not comparable to going to a normal ATM. First, I had to register on the machine operator’s website and go through a video call to confirm my identity. I also installed a wallet, that is, an electronic wallet for storing cryptocurrencies, on my smartphone.
At the machine, I have to register with my mobile number and enter a PIN code sent by SMS, then hold the electronic address of my wallet in front of a scanner on the machine. Now another PIN code is required – which one actually? Call support: it’s about the pin code that I set myself when registering on the website – which I’ve forgotten again. After it is settled, I can finally put a 50 euro note in the machine – that is the minimum amount. A screen then confirms that I now own 0.0027 Bitcoin.
Then a brief panic because the amount does not appear in my brand new wallet. Until I realize that Bitcoin transactions can sometimes take a bit longer. 40 minutes later, the receipt is confirmed in the wallet.
There are several Bitcoin ATMs in Stuttgart
The machine tested is in Frankfurt’s Saturn store and is operated by the Austrian company Kurant. Compared to online trading venues, the machines offer “a low-threshold alternative to the simple and secure purchase of cryptocurrencies,” explains a company spokesperson when asked. There are also relatively high transaction fees of eight percent.
In Stuttgart there are three Kurant machines: in the Lucky Bar in Wangen, at the textile cleaner Trieb in Botnang and in the Schwaben-Galerie in Vaihingen, in the “House of Vape”. This e-cigarette provider, which operates eight branches in Baden-Württemberg, has equipped all of its stores with Bitcoin machines.
Deposit of up to 2500 euros per day possible
Why? Bitcoin is “simply the future,” explains Alexander Götz, one of the chain’s owners, on the phone. You cannot pay with the cryptocurrency in “House of Vape”, but you are still looking for a legally secure solution. However, the machines have been very well received by customers. Up to 2,500 euros can be exchanged in a single day, with a maximum of 10,000 euros per month.
A few years ago, “House of Vape” had tried to use devices from another provider – but they had to be taken apart again. In 2020, the Financial Supervisory Authority Bafin made it clear that the sale of cryptocurrencies via ATMs in Germany also requires a Bafin permit. Dozens of machines were shut down, including those operated by Coin Fellows, which was active in Baden-Württemberg at the time.
Kurant has been active in Austria for years
Kurant not only has a Bafin license, but also a lot of experience: the company operates over 100 crypto ATMs in its Austrian home market. These also include devices where cryptocurrencies can not only be bought, but also resold. In Austria, the rules are less strict than in Germany, here amounts of up to 250 euros can be deposited without any registration. Kurant machines can also be found in five Swiss post offices and in twelve media markets.
It is not possible to pay with cryptocurrencies in the branches of Media Markt or in the branches of the Austrian Post. However, the latter sells a so-called crypto stamp, “a physical stamp with a digital twin,” as a spokesman for the postal service reports. It can also be purchased online with cryptocurrencies.
Saturn wants to set up more machines
At Media Markt Saturn, they will check the acceptance of crypto payments for the future, but there are still no concrete plans, explains a spokeswoman for the German parent company. The machines, which were installed in three German Saturn stores in May, have been so well received that other branches will soon be equipped with them. However, the spokeswoman does not want to give figures for the use of the machines. Media Markt Saturn describes their delivery as a “customer-oriented service that makes it easier to enter the digital world”. As a sideline, retailers who set up vending machines also get a reduction in fees, according to Kurant.
Only a few companies in Germany allow you to pay with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. This applies, for example, to the budget hotel chain A&O, which is also present in Stuttgart. An international overview can be found on the Cointelegraph website.