Bitcoin + General FAQ


What is Bitcoin (BTC)?

Bitcoin is the first “cryptocurrency”. Created in 2009, it is still - by far - the most popular and most widely accepted form of cryptocurrency. It's best to think of bitcoin as "digital cash". This means that if you have bitcoin you can use them to pay other people or businesses, online or in person, no matter where they are in the world! Just like cash, however, Bitcoin transfers are irreversible, so be very careful who you pay. Currently, Bitcoin is primarily used for price speculation and savings as well as purchases and global value transfers. There are likely thousands of retailers that accept bitcoin. Bitcoin is changing how we use and store value!

See why we’re so excited about Bitcoin! — Introduction to Bitcoin video by Andreas Antonopoulos

For more information about our supported alternative currencies, please see our Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash pages.

What is a Bitcoin wallet?

Similar to a traditional wallet you may carry in your pocket, a bitcoin wallet is used to store and manage money. The difference is that instead of storing a collection of bills and cards, a Bitcoin wallet stores a collection of Bitcoin private keys. A private key is used to “unlock” bitcoin at a particular address and authorize its transfer to a new address.

A Bitcoin or crypto wallet is a free, digital app you install on your smartphone / PC or a hardware device built for this purpose. While the Bitcoin network is distributed and verified by computers around the world, a Bitcoin wallet is controlled only by its owner. It's important to keep your Bitcoin private keys safe by using a recommended wallet app and setting a strong, unique password or PIN. 

Always make a backup of your username/password OR your recovery phrase in case you lose or damage your wallet!

For other digital currencies you will need a wallet that specifically supports that asset. Many wallets these days support multiple crypto assets.

What is a Bitcoin address?

QR Code: A visual representation of a Bitcoin address - used to scan an address with a camera or at an ATM

QR Code: A visual representation of a Bitcoin address - used to scan an address with a camera or at an ATM

A Bitcoin address is a long identifier representing the person or destination that is looking to receive bitcoin (including yourself). Like a street address, the Bitcoin address tells the network where you want your bitcoin to go. Our ATMs need an address to know where to send the bitcoin you purchase.

Bitcoin addresses are generated by Bitcoin wallets and formatted in a particular way. Here are examples of the three currently valid types of Bitcoin addresses (i.e., beginning with 1, 3, or bc1). Do not use these yourself:


How to buy bitcoins at a Athena Bitcoin ATM?

Step 1: Verify your cell phone number by typing it in and inputting the SMS code.

Step 2: Select Bitcoin as the coin type.

Step 3: Choose a destination of where you would like the bitcoins to be sent. You can choose to scan a QR code (recommended), print a paper wallet, or manually enter your wallet address. Our machines can work with any bitcoin wallet, however, if you don’t have one, you can find suggestions in our Mobile Wallet Guide for Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Beyond.

Step 4: Insert cash.

Step 5: Hit “Finish” and choose to receive a paper or email receipt.

Also see our full Instructions page for how to buy bitcoin and other assets at our ATMs.

How to sell bitcoins for cash at a Athena Bitcoin ATM?

Click here for an interactive map of all our cash-dispensing locations.

Step 1: Tap the Withdraw Cash button on the home screen.

Step 2: Select Bitcoin as the currency type and choose the amount of cash you would like to receive.

Step 3: Using your mobile bitcoin wallet, scan the QR code on the machine to send the exact amount of bitcoins required for your transaction (make sure you send your bitcoins with a high network fee to reduce wait times).

Step 4: Receive a receipt with a redemption code (this will happen even if you sent no coins to the ATM).

Step 5: You will need to wait for your transaction to confirm on the blockchain. The time this takes depends on the fee you paid to send your transaction. Choose a higher fee for faster confirmation. Once confirmed you will receive a text message letting you know that your cash is ready for pickup.

Step 6: Go back to the machine, touch “Redeem”, and use you redemption code to get cash.

Also see our full How to Sell page for instructions on selling bitcoin or other digital currencies at our ATMs.

How to get bitcoin off of a paper wallet?

Step 1: You must download a mobile wallet app which has the ability to move (or "sweep”) bitcoin from a paper wallet. If you don’t have one, the Edge wallet for mobile phones will work.

Step 2: Once you have the Edge wallet downloaded, open it and press Sign Up to create a wallet account

Step 3: Once you have created an Edge account, tap to open your Bitcoin internal wallet and then press the "Send" or "Scan" button.

Step 4: This will open up your camera. Scan the private key QR code on your paper wallet (the bottom QR code).

Step 5: Edge should give you a popup window. Press "Import" to move the bitcoin. The coins should show up almost immediately in your wallet balance as pending. You should now be able to send this bitcoin on to an external address right away or store them in this wallet for later use.

See our How to Use a Paper Wallet guide for more detail and instructions for different types of wallets, including Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash paper wallets.

Why aren’t my bitcoins showing up?

All bitcoin purchases from an Athena ATM deliver within 15 minutes, so you should receive your coins very quickly. Most of the time, if you don’t see the coins in your wallet, it just needs to be refreshed by closing out of the app and opening it back up again. Websites, on the other hand, will not typically show the coins until the transaction has been confirmed on the Bitcoin network, which can take up to an hour unless the network is running slow due to high transaction volume. If you are concerned about your coins not being sent, please check your transaction on the network by using a block explorer to find your transaction using your address.

Do you have a minimum age to use the ATM?

Yes. Customers need to be at least 13 years of age to use any Athena-owned service, including the ATMs.

What are your fees to purchase and sell bitcoin?

Our exchange fees for Bitcoin (BTC) vary by ATM. Please see our CoinATMRadar page for current per-coin effective rates. Pricing may change at any time, but is typically within the 10-18% range. The “We Sell” price expressed at the ATM is the effective price you would have to pay for one whole coin, however you can buy any fraction of a coin you want.

Selling bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and receiving cash at select 2-way ATMs costs just 5%.


See also: Our ATM network status page for locations in the United States.

For more technical questions and answers, please contact us.