Despite Bitcoin’s recent volatility, one fact remains certain: people have taken an interest in both the coin and cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin (BTC) is a form of digital cryptocurrency, and as the first cryptocurrency is also the most popular and highly valued according to Bitcoin’s price, market capitalization, and trading volume.
With Bitcoin rising in popularity, it has become increasingly easier to access the cryptocurrency.
One common location to buy Bitcoin can be found at nearby gas stations, with select gas stations offering Bitcoin ATMs.
On the corner of City and Belmont avenues, a LUKOIL is seeing more and more customers walk up to the machine even if they don’t know what it is.
“It’s been a few years since it’s been here,” said Miguel Salazar, the owner of the LUKOIL gas station. “People come in and ask about it when they are checking out. They use it.”
These ATMs look like standard ATMs but instead have selections from some of the biggest crypto coins available, such as Ethereum (ETH), Binance Coin (BNB), Solana (SOL), Cardano (ADA), Terra (LUNA), and many more.
Initially, Salazar had no interest in the machine and didn’t even know what cryptocurrency was. If it were up to him, the machine wouldn’t have been there in the first place.
“It was a different company that came in and put it here,” Salazar said. “I didn’t know what it was.”
Salazar has no recollection of the company that came in and put it there, although the ATM is owned by Pay Depot — a cryptocurrency ATM terminal provider.
Research shows it’s not only Salazar but many people are becoming more familiar with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
According to Pew Research Center, 86% of Americans say they have heard at least a little about cryptocurrencies, and 16% say they have personally invested, traded, or otherwise used one.
Philadelphia has taken notice of the crypto crowd, with over 430 ATMs available to purchase Bitcoin and select cryptocurrencies in the city. The City of Philadelphia even briefly considered launching its own coin.
While those plans may have been abandoned, residents can still buy their own coins and tokens. At 1231 Race St., in QQ Mart, another ATM can be found.
“People come in and use the machine, but maybe only one or two people a week,” Leana Wong, a cashier at QQ Mart, said. “Usually, I see the same people on it.”
Wong does not remember how the machine ended up in the store but knows the owner was contacted by a company.
“She got a call, and a few days later it was here,” Wong said.
Despite being able to find ATMs to purchase cryptocurrencies, spending it is another issue.
Not many businesses accept Bitcoin despite it being readily available.
While some may think of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as an investment, an increase in businesses are accepting it as a form of payment. While not the norm yet, not just in Philadelphia but the world, due to Bitcoin’s never-ending fluctuating price point, more businesses are adopting cryptocurrencies as legitimate tender.
Some businesses might fall somewhere in the middle. Philadelphia Scooters has experimented with integrating cryptocurrencies into its business model for more than 5 years. Currently the shop still takes Bitcoin for service work but is not offering Bitcoin for purchasing a scooter.
“We only took Bitcoin for small payments in the past, and probably only ever three times in 10 years,” Richard Everhill, the service manager at Philadelphia Scooters, said. “Basically, just one of our employees was excited about Bitcoin.”
Even with Bitcoin offered as a method of payment in certain businesses, many consumers feel cryptocurrencies are too complicated or is still too unstable for people to feel comfortable more fully adopting it.
There is some technical know-how and security measures required to begin with cryptocurrencies, just as if using any fiat money. To buy Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies from a crypto ATM in Philadelphia, follow these steps:
- Make sure you have an account with a cryptocurrency wallet like Coinbase, FTX, Edge, etc.
- Select the cryptocurrency you would like to buy
- Enter your phone number
- After entering your phone number, you will receive a verification code; enter the code on the machine
- Enter the amount you would like to purchase
- Enter your email
- Scan your QR code from your cryptocurrency wallet to receive funds
- Enter cash or pay with a card to receive your cryptocurrency
- Print receipt
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