What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the first decentralized form of digital currency. 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 value transfers. There are likely thousands of retailers that accept bitcoin. Bitcoin, litecoin and other cryptocurrencies are changing the future of money and global payments.

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

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?

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

Step 2: Select 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 normal or high miner's fee).

Step 4: Receive a receipt with a redemption code (don’t lose this code).

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.

What is a Bitcoin Wallet?

Similar to a traditional wallet you may carry in your pocket, a bitcoin wallet is used to store money. The difference is that instead of storing a collection of bills and cards, a bitcoin wallet stores a collection of bitcoin private keys. Typically a wallet is encrypted with a password or otherwise protected from unauthorized access. Unlike the Bitcoin network, a Bitcoin wallet is controlled only by its owner (it's not distributed and shared like the blockchain). It's important to keep your bitcoin wallet safe by either setting a strong password or otherwise keeping it out of reach of malicious individuals. Always make a backup of your username/password or your recovery phrase!

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

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 10 minutes, so you should receive your coins very quickly. 9 times out of 10, 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. Some wallets will not show the coins until the transaction has been confirmed on the blockchain, 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. See our post about finding your transaction status.

Why are Bitcoin fees so high??

Bitcoin experienced a massive increase in popularity and price in 2017. This resulted in many more transactions than the network can handle. As a result, transaction fees increased to compensate. In the week prior to Christmas 2017, Bitcoin congestion reached a peak where people were paying as much as $40 to send their transactions! More commonly you should expect anywhere from 15 cents up to $15 or $20 to send your bitcoin to another address from your own wallet (there are many variables). These fees go to the Bitcoin miners, not to Athena Bitcoin.

Because transaction volumes have decreased significantly compared to 2017, Bitcoin is operating relatively quickly and inexpensively in 2018. However, we still recommend using Litecoin, Ethereum, or Bitcoin Cash if at all possible for smaller purchases and faster payment needs, or for receiving cash at the ATM.


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.


For more technical questions and answers, please contact us.