We distinguish two main stages of Bitcoin ATM operator growth. It's a conditional gradation and may vary due to the market environment.
- Launch and testing phase: As a new Bitcoin ATM operator, you've set up compliance procedures, made other preparations, and recently bought the first ATM, or several, and operations are just starting. The aim at this stage is to grow the business, provide enough traffic to ATMs, and begin showing a stable profit in the first year. The best option for the new operator at this stage is to have enough income or investments to play a long-term game and not worry much about surviving in the early setting. The entrepreneur will likely work alone or with a partner at this stage. This document will primarily focus on this part of the business cycle.
- Expansion phase: You survived the first "valley of death" and reached something you can call a break-even point. The expansion phase involves expanding your current ATM operations by adding more machines in more locations. At this stage, the operator may also explore partnerships with other businesses to expand their reach and hire new team members. Make sure to consider suitable configurations in your ATM purchases in this stage, as investing in suitable models for your ATMs will make managing your ATM network easier in the long run.
① Research market opportunities and competitors
First, identify potential competitors in the local market, and assess the market size and demand for Bitcoin ATMs. Your competitors will include mainly existing crypto ATM operators and other service providers such as bitcoin tellers. Research the interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the area, and try to understand people's behaviors. It will help you understand the potential of your future business and make informed decisions on entering the market and maximizing profits. Even if Bitcoin ATMs are common in your area, there are still crowded locations without ATMs, and this is where you will find opportunities. If you didn't find any ATMs in your country/area, try to figure out why, possibly, the regulations are strict in your home state (See point 2). Otherwise, you have a great chance of success and taking over the market!
② Research local regulations and policies
Understanding the laws governing Bitcoin ATMs in your area is essential before you begin operating one. In some locations, such machines are considered money transmitters, requiring registration with local or state authorities. Regulations and policies vary widely from state to state and city to city. Researching the topic yourself could help you to understand the environment much better, but it takes time. To save time, you can ask notable compliance firms to help you meet regulations and get the required licenses. Additionally, you can investigate which local policies and procedures existing Bitcoin ATM operators use in the same area. Plan your future operations compliant, and you save money and time, and you'll sleep better too.
Find the right bank to open an account for your ATM business (or ask your current bank if they are okay with it). Your bank should be aware of your future operations and assure you that you will be fine. They will probably require you to show how to combat fraud and handle AML/KYC regulations, so ensure you have this data when meeting with them.
③ Choose an ATM provider
The next step is to evaluate various ATM manufacturers to decide which one is the best fit for you. Research the company's story, product range, and market share. Look at the costs, reliability, and usability of the machines, the features offered, and the ease of maintenance and customer support provided. Try to find the biggest clients of the manufacturer you are interested in and figure out how they are doing now. Take your time to study the terms and conditions, review the features they implemented over the last year, compare approaches, and determine on which OS their software runs. And finally, try to establish contact. Ideally, both sides should consider each other as partners, as such a relationship will benefit both parties. Remember that the long-term relationship will start once you purchase your first ATM, so take this issue seriously and ensure you select the best partner for your company.
④ Make a list of future expenses
Research and list all potential expenses you may need to pay for, such as purchase and delivery of ATM, location rent, cash collection, and other charges and costs. Among variable expenses, there will be exchange fees (if you use exchanges for keeping your wallets with a positive balance), license fees (for support and updates for ATMs), id verification fees (when required), and applicable taxes. Once you have compiled your variable and fixed costs list, you, the Bitcoin ATM operator, will better understand the pricing structure and necessary funds required to run your business.
⑤ Determine the pricing structure and the potential scenarios for your future business
Winning in a high-competitive market is challenging, but you are a fighter, right? Establish a sustainable and effective business from the start, avoiding unnecessary expenses. With all potential costs calculated, determine how much fees you should charge to remain competitive in your area and still make a profit. It's essential to consider which currencies are supported and which type of ATMs you can operate in your area. With a disruptive business model and more features on your machines, you can distinguish yourself from existing operators and gain users.
photo © Jiří Staněk
⑥ Choose the best possible location for your first ATM
For the plan to work, you need the perfect place for your ATM. It would be best to consider factors like foot traffic, security, potential customer base, the presence of other businesses, accessibility, and visibility. Finally, consider the area's legal regulations and zoning laws, as these may affect where you can install an ATM. Find out the rental prices of the space that has your interest. It's up to you to negotiate a different model, for example, when you pay according to your earnings. It usually takes up to six months to attract good traffic to the newly installed bitcoin ATM. Therefore we recommend negotiating with the property owner to decrease the rent price in the first months when possible. And work out the escape route, in case you realize this place doesn't work. Once you have chosen the ideal location, you can begin the next steps of the process.
High-traffic locations like malls, gas stations, and transfer hubs like airports, train, or bus stations are usually the best locations for placing Bitcoin ATMs. Striking a deal with a chain will get you many sites at once, saving you time sourcing new locations.
⑦ Purchase the Bitcoin ATM
Depending on the model and features, the Bitcoin ATM can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to ten thousand dollars. Researching the models and features available is essential. A future ATM operator should also consider factors such as purchasing power of a local currency (higher inflation often means more cash collections and usually requires a bigger cashbox inside the ATM). After choosing the features you want in the machine, determine which appearance of the ATM will attract users the most. With GENERAL BYTES, the purchase process is easy; our sales and customer success departments will help you with each step. We are reachable via any channels you like; schedule a call, write an email or contact via social media.
photo © Martin Kusyn
⑧ Setting up the management platform and connecting third-party apps
After receiving your first ATM, you can now configure it and make it work. This step involves setting up the server in your isolated infrastructure, which is extremely important for security and privacy. You will configure your new BATM(s) settings in the management platform according to your market strategy and connect external vendors associated with the cryptocurrency, such as exchanges, wallets, payment processors, and identity verification solutions. This step requires some technical skills to pass it. The best way is to have a partner or contractor care for this part of your business. But don't worry too much; we've built a massive knowledge base that assists you at each process stage. The GB support team is available if you experience any issues. These complex measures could seem inconvenient, but they will pay you later — when you realize that you can configure your business precisely according to your needs.
After configuring all the vital components on your BATM, you will have complete control over the machine and ensure that all transactions are legitimate and secure. Now your first-ever customer can purchase/sell coins using your device securely and seamlessly. You are almost ready.
⑨ Set up customer support
Make sure you have a way for customers to reach you with questions and concerns. It can be a phone number/email address / a QR code with a link to an online chat. Besides the website, you can put the support info on a sticker or printed receipt if your ATM has a printer. You can support customers yourself if you just started the business and have only a few ATMs. Especially having well-configured ATMs with a stable internet connection and user-friendly interface, customers won't have any questions, and fewer calls mean you can focus on expanding your business instead.
Ideally, customer support should be available within ATM working hours and able to assist customers with any questions or issues. A helpful and friendly support service will ensure customers have a positive experience and are more likely to return.
⑩ Bring to market and promote your Bitcoin ATM
Your task is to draw the attention of potential customers and make them aware of the services you provide. Ensure that everyone around 30 miles knows about your ATM and try to make a long-term relationship with clients from the first contact. Promoting your Bitcoin ATM can be done through various methods, such as digital marketing, local advertising, and word-of-mouth. Put the info about your ATM on all the maps people use to find such services, like google maps, coinatmmap.com, and coinatmradar.com. Use all possible social media channels and platforms like Reddit to spread the word about your Bitcoin ATM and the services you provide. Additionally, you can make a referral/loyalty program and do cross-marketing, let your imagination be your guide!
⑪ Monitor the performance of your ATM
By keeping track of the number of transactions, the number of unique customers, the rate of success, and the total sales daily, weekly, and monthly, you will be able to identify any issues or trends that may arise. Use this data to adjust the ATM settings and optimize its performance. Understanding how people use the machine will allow you to better predict and prepare for future demand. Remember, the data is gold! With the CAS software package from GENERAL BYTES, you will be able to track and analyze all necessary data and will be able to scale the ATM fleet up to 10 thousand machines and still be able to manage it smoothly.
⑫ Monitor the market
It is vital to keep track of the industry direction, Bitcoin volatility, and any changes in the regulations and laws which may affect the business. Doing so will ensure that all transactions comply with regulations, helping protect customers and your business from potential risks. The operator should also be aware of news and events that could affect the market, such as the appearance of new industry innovators, technology developments, or changes in the political landscape. Staying informed will help you to make better decisions and adjust your strategy quickly, ensuring your Bitcoin ATM network remains profitable.
⑬ Use new features and follow software updates
If you did your research in step 3 and selected a reputable provider of ATM hardware, you have purchased a machine that works not only with regular cash-to-crypto operations but instead improves over time. First, determine which features already exist and use the ones you think will enhance the user experience. Second, follow the channel where the ATM manufacturer/software provider announces important updates, security warnings, and new software releases. Take advantage of every single message. Be a smooth operator and maximize the efficiency of your ATM fleet.
⑭ Know Your Customer
Anonymity is one of the reasons why people like to use ATMs to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Although there are fewer and fewer jurisdictions where an anonymous exchange is legally possible, it's okay to create a Bitcoin ATM business in a regulated jurisdiction if you comply with KYC/AML policies and protect the user's data simultaneously.
KYC/AML methods allow you to identify users and check addresses for blocklisting. Usually, such methods are provided via API by solutions like Onfido, Veriff, and CipherTrace, which can analyze user data in real-time. Using their services, you can ensure that transactions are legitimate and that customers are whom they say they are, allowing you to keep bad actors from using your ATM network.
Besides the procedures described above, the anonymized data of customers' transactions will allow you to analyze behavior and patterns. It will enable you to make data-driven decisions that eventually help you to get more customers and make them loyal to your brand.
⑮ Cash Handling
Set Alerts in your management software, so you know when it is time to empty the cash box or fill it when needed, depending on the type of ATM, one- or two-way. Cash operations also involve managing the cash deposit and withdrawal limits per customer, choosing the nominations of banknotes your ATM works with, and troubleshooting any cash-related issues.
Remember, if your jurisdiction allows you to operate crypto-buy and crypto-sell transactions, we recommend enabling this. Consider selecting machines with a cash recycler to reduce the number of cash calls to the ATMs. They will save you time, decrease operating costs, and make your business model sustainable and more profitable, allowing you to concentrate on growth strategy. In short, the operator needs to ensure that cash operations run smoothly and efficiently; this is vital to operating a successful bitcoin ATM network.
Starting a Bitcoin ATM business can be daunting, but with proper preparation and research, you can pave the way for success. With dedication and hard work, you can build a profitable business that provides a valuable service to the community, bringing us all closer to a decentralized digital future. Good luck! If you remain focused, you can turn your vision into reality.