1st Jul 2020, 1:12:48 PM
We all know Bitcoin and all the other cryptocurrencies out there were built for the ever-expanding online world.
When Satoshi Nakamoto first thought of Bitcoin, he/she/they knew cash would eventually become obsolete and all transactions would be made on the Internet. As a result, the anonymous inventor(s) created a currency that relies on a peer-to-peer online network with participants from all over the world that are connected 24/7/365.
Nevertheless, this didn’t stop the developers that followed Satoshi to expand Bitcoin’s utility to the ‘offline’ world, also. They imagined new ways to promote the original digital currency into the real world from the simplest of solutions to the full integration of crypto into the already-established physical infrastructure.
It all started with a platform founded just three years after the Bitcoin network went online.
LocalBitcoins was one of the first pure peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchanges in the world that helped the user complete a transaction safely & securely. Before this platform, there was the popular Bitcointalk forum where many transactions were made, including the first-ever when Laszlo Hanyecz gave 10,000 BTC to user ‘jercos’ for a two-pizza order to his place.
LocalBitcoins implemented a safe escrow system for online transactions, but, at the same time, the traders had the option to meet in-person and complete the exchange, if they lived in the same city and country.
For many, this was the most convenient way to trade bitcoins while meeting & exchanging ideas with people that believed in this new world in the making. No need to give away sensitive information to unknowns, just a straight-up face-to-face exchange just the way it has always been since Homo Sapiens started trading.
One year ago though, after seven years of countless Bitcoin offline exchanges made worldwide, LocalBitcoins removed the option to trade in-person leaving its customers just with the option to buy or sell the number one digital currency online.
The removal wasn’t necessarily a result of a plummet in peer-to-peer trading demand. In fact, the competition in 2020 for this ‘offline’ niche is as fierce as ever with several other exchanges & services grabbing the market share and helping users complete transactions face-to-face. To name some of the most popular, the decentralized open-source exchange Bisq, trading platform without KYC/AML Hodl Hodl, or crypto wallet Mycelium all have the option to search for a willing trader near your location and plan an in-person meeting to make the trade.
A possible cause as to why LocalBitcoins removed the ‘in-person: cash’ option has to do with the surge of established services that implemented Bitcoin & all the popular cryptocurrencies. In addition, crypto businesses found new ways to attract customers by simplifying the whole Bitcoin exchange process.
For example, months ago, a Venezuelan-based trading platform announced the implementation of a new feature that will help Venezuelans exchange Bitcoin offline. At Cryptolago, you can now make all kinds of crypto transactions via SMS without the need of an Internet connection.
Since the Internet connection is a problem in Venezuela, the country tops pretty much any Bitcoin offline exchange method in terms of transactions. Using Dash Text – an SMS-based option to send DASH cryptocurrency – the Latin American country has registered over 1,000 transactions since the beginning of the year. As a comparison, the US has 150, during the same period.
Trading Bitcoin & crypto offline is not a third-world-country affair, however. Just several days ago,Bitcoin.com.au announced a partnership with the Australian Post Office offering all Aussies the possibility to buy Bitcoin at 3,500 offices from all around the Down Under. They can either pay using credit cards or other POS-eligible payment services or with real Australian dollars.
Partnerships & online exchanges expanding in the real world may offer some valuable insights about Bitcoin offline exchanges, yet the picture is not complete if we do not add the Bitcoin ATM industry into the mix.
What started as a sideshow in the cryptocurrency niche gathered steam in the last couple of years taking over the whole world, from the distant Siberia to southern Australia, from Canada to Chile, and from Finland to South Africa.
According to the Coin ATM Radar website, there are currently almost 8,500 crypto ATMs installed in 73 countries from 42 manufacturers. Obviously, the most popular ATM crypto is Bitcoin followed by Litecoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash & Dash.
Compared to the regular ATMs, at any crypto ATM, you can buy or sell your favorite coin without the need to log in to an online exchange or online payment service. All you have to do is bring your wallet with you, pour in money into the machine if you want to buy BTC, or exchange some of your bitcoins to real cash and wait for the machine to pour out your money.
Since the beginning of 2020, the number of Bitcoin ATM installations have increased by 25%, from 6,351 on January 1, 2020, to 8,452 towards the end of June. Compared to January 1, 2019, the number doubled; if we take a look even further back in time, to January 2018, the increase is fourfold.
An exponential growth no doubt, in recent years, proving once more Bitcoin offline exchanges are here to stay, at least for the next decade or so. Online may be the way to go in 2020, but do not disregard the offline market that can definitely help Bitcoin & the cryptocurrency market overall emerge victorious in the battle against the fiat currencies of the world.
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