The Bitcoin Revolution in El Salvador: Discovering the Availability of Bitcoin ATMs

Welcome to the Bitcoin revolution in El Salvador, where a small Central American country is making big waves in the world of cryptocurrency. In an unprecedented move, El Salvador has become the first nation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, paving the way for a new era of financial freedom and innovation. But what’s even more exciting is the availability of Bitcoin ATMs across this tiny nation, enabling both locals and tourists to embrace this digital currency with open arms.


Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency, has taken the world by storm since its inception in 2009. However, in recent years, it has gained even more popularity with the rise of the Bitcoin Revolution, a movement that aims to promote and adopt Bitcoin as a global currency. And now, this revolution has reached El Salvador.

In June 2021, El Salvador became the first country in the world to officially recognize Bitcoin as legal tender. This decision marks a significant milestone for both Bitcoin and El Salvador, making it one of the most talked-about topics in the crypto community.

The Importance of Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador

Bitcoin has been gaining traction as a popular form of currency in recent years, and its impact has been felt even more strongly in El Salvador. In June 2021, El Salvador became the first country in the world to officially adopt bitcoin as legal tender, sparking a surge of interest and investment in this digital currency. As part of this revolution, one key aspect that cannot be ignored is the role of Bitcoin ATMs.

Bitcoin ATMs have been around since 2013, but their importance has been magnified with the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador. These machines allow individuals to buy and sell bitcoins using cash or credit or debit cards. They function similarly to traditional ATMs, except instead of dispensing physical cash, they transfer bitcoins directly to a user’s digital wallet.

One of the main reasons why Bitcoin ATMs are so important in El Salvador is accessibility. While many people have access to smartphones and can make transactions online using various platforms, not everyone has access to these technologies. This is particularly true for low-income communities where internet connectivity may be limited or expensive. Bitcoin ATMs provide an alternative way for people to buy and sell bitcoins without needing a smartphone or stable internet connection.

The History of Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador

The use of Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador has been a significant part of the country’s journey towards becoming the first nation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. These machines have played a crucial role in facilitating the widespread use and acceptance of Bitcoin among the Salvadoran population.

The first Bitcoin ATM was installed in El Salvador in 2015 by Bitcolin, a local cryptocurrency exchange. It was located in Multiplaza, one of the largest shopping centers in San Salvador, and allowed users to buy and sell Bitcoins using cash. This marked an important milestone for the cryptocurrency community in El Salvador, as it provided people with a physical location where they could easily access and trade digital currencies.

However, it wasn’t until 2019 that more Bitcoin ATMs started popping up across the country. This increase can be attributed to the growing interest and demand for cryptocurrencies among both locals and tourists. Several companies from different parts of the world saw this potential market and decided to invest in setting up their own ATMs across El Salvador.

One such company is Athena Bitcoin, which installed its first ATM in San Salvador’s La Gran Via shopping mall. By mid-2021, Athena Bitcoin had already established over 25 ATMs throughout El Salvador, providing convenient access to buy or sell Bitcoins with cash or debit card transactions.

How to Use a Bitcoin ATM in El Salvador

Bitcoin ATMs are becoming increasingly popular in El Salvador since the country’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender. These machines provide a convenient and easy way for individuals to buy or sell Bitcoin without the need for a bank account or online exchange.

If you’re new to using a Bitcoin ATM, don’t worry; the process is straightforward and can be completed in just a few simple steps. In this section, we’ll guide you through how to use a Bitcoin ATM in El Salvador.

Step 1: Locate a Bitcoin ATM

The first step is to find a Bitcoin ATM near you. In El Salvador, there are currently more than 50 Bitcoin ATMs scattered throughout the country, with most of them located in major cities such as San Salvador and Santa Ana. You can easily locate an ATM by using websites like CoinATMRadar or by checking with local crypto communities.

Step 2: Verify Your Identity

Before using the ATM, you will need to verify your identity. This is required by government regulations to prevent money laundering and other illegal activities. Depending on the machine’s type, you may need to scan your government-issued ID or passport and take a selfie.

Step 3: Choose “Buy” or “Sell.”

Once your identity has been verified, you can choose whether you want to buy or sell bitcoins. If you’re looking to purchase Bitcoins, select the “Buy” option on the screen.

Step 4: Enter the amount.

Next, enter the amount of cash you would like to spend in USD. The ATM will then automatically calculate how much Bitcoin you will receive based on the current exchange rate.

Step 5: Scan Your Wallet QR Code

If you have a Bitcoin wallet, scan the QR code displayed on your smartphone or paper wallet using the ATM’s scanner. If you don’t have a wallet, most ATMs will allow you to create one on the spot by printing out a paper wallet with your private and public keys.

Step 6: Insert cash

Insert the cash amount specified into the machine. You can use either USD or Salvadoran Colon (SVC) bills, as most ATMs in El Salvador accept both currencies.

Step 7: Confirm Transaction

The ATM will then display a summary of your transaction, including the amount of Bitcoin you will receive and any fees associated with it. If everything looks correct, press “Confirm” to complete the transaction.

Step 8: Receive Your Bitcoin

Once your transaction is confirmed, your bitcoins will be sent to your wallet immediately. You can check your balance by scanning the QR code again or by accessing your wallet through an online platform.

Benefits of having Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador

1. Accessibility and Convenience
The primary benefit of having Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador is increased accessibility and convenience for both locals and tourists. These machines allow users to easily buy or sell Bitcoins using cash without needing an online account or dealing with complicated exchanges. With over 2000 Bitcoin ATMs installed across the country, people can access their funds at any time of day or night without worrying about bank hours or transaction limits.

2. Lower transaction fees
Another significant advantage of using Bitcoin ATMs is lower transaction fees compared to traditional banking services or exchanges. Most banks charge high fees for international transactions, making it costly for individuals and businesses to send money abroad. However, with Bitcoin ATMs, users can transfer funds at a fraction of these costs, typically ranging from 3–10% depending on location and machine type.

3. Financial Inclusion
The adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender aims to promote financial inclusion in El Salvador by providing access to financial services for those who were previously excluded from the traditional banking system. With Bitcoin ATMs, even those without a bank account can participate in the digital economy and have more control over their finances.

4. Boost to the Local Economy
The introduction of Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador has also brought economic benefits to local businesses and entrepreneurs. These machines are typically owned and operated by small business owners, providing them with an additional source of income and promoting entrepreneurship.

5. Increased Adoption of Cryptocurrencies
Bitcoin ATMs serve as a gateway for people to enter the world of cryptocurrencies. By making it easier for individuals to buy and sell Bitcoins, these machines are helping to increase adoption and awareness of digital currencies in El Salvador.

Challenges and Controversies Surrounding Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador

Challenges and controversies have surrounded the use of Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador since the country’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender in September 2021. While these machines were initially seen as a convenient way for citizens to access and use this new form of currency, they have also sparked debates and raised concerns among various groups.

One of the main challenges facing Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador is their limited accessibility. As of October 2021, there are only around 200 Bitcoin ATMs installed throughout the entire country, with most of them being concentrated in major cities such as San Salvador. This means that many rural areas still lack access to these machines, making it difficult for residents to utilize Bitcoin for their daily transactions. This has led to complaints from those living outside urban centers who feel left out of the digital currency revolution.

Another challenge is the technical knowledge required to operate a Bitcoin ATM. Unlike traditional ATMs that dispense physical cash, Bitcoin ATMs require users to have a basic understanding of how cryptocurrency works. For many Salvadorans who are not tech-savvy or financially literate, using these machines can be intimidating and confusing.


The presence of Bitcoin ATMs in El Salvador has numerous benefits, including increased accessibility, lower transaction fees, financial inclusion, a boost to the local economy, and the promotion of cryptocurrency adoption. As more countries and businesses around the world begin to embrace cryptocurrencies, it is likely that we will see an increase in Bitcoin ATM installations globally.

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