It is possible that early Bitcoin users could not even imagine that the virtual currency would reach its current state. In fact, some of them lost their wallet keys and went to great lengths to get back the huge amount of bitcoin they had originally bought for a few dollars at most.
Bitcoin definitely turned a corner in 2021, as countries began easing restrictions on the currency or in the case of El Salvador, adopting it as an official currency and began deploying large numbers of Bitcoin ATMs. Meanwhile, Bitcoin also suffered in 2021 as its value continued to take off on a fast ride, currently standing at just under $50K at the time of writing.
With that in mind, we have to ask: Will Bitcoin take off in 2022?
I think one important sign to look at is the increasing prevalence of Bitcoin ATMs. According to Coin ATM Radar, the United States leads the pack with 30,220 ATM locations across the country. The next closest is Canada with 2,219 locations and El Salvador with 205 locations.
The functions of these Bitcoin ATMs are varied, but mainly they enable users to buy or sell cryptocurrencies. Most of them rely on cash, but some allow customers to buy bitcoin with a debit card. Some are placed next to traditional ATMs so that customers can get cash from one of them and use it at Bitcoin ATMs.
In many cases, the retailers deploying Bitcoin ATMs get a significant amount of new customers and traffic from the devices, as customers come to see the device. They can also earn money with the monthly fee.
It is easy to see from the growth of Bitcoin ATMs that cryptocurrency is now mainstream. However, it still has some issues.
The first has more to do with its role: mainly its current inability to function as real currency. While traditional fiat currencies certainly fluctuate in value, Bitcoin is an entirely different story. You cannot reliably use bitcoin as an intermediary or buy when today it is worth $47,000 but tomorrow it could be $50,000.
There is also the issue of confirmation time for bitcoin. According to Ycharts, it took an average of 95.10 minutes for Bitcoin to confirm a transaction. That’s because Bitcoin can only process a handful of transactions per second, while Visa can handle roughly 2,000 transactions per second, according to the Towards Data Science blog.
Another problem is that there is a huge gap in education with Bitcoin. While this may sound like a broken record at this point, many people know about Bitcoin, but still others don’t. You’re still likely to get blank stars from a layman if you try to tell them about bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. This kind of education gap hinders mass adoption.
Despite these issues, Bitcoin still has great potential going forward, and it is not showing any signs of slowing down. In the ATM market, we will continue to monitor Bitcoin adoption, particularly in the ATM and fintech space from now on.