An Athena ATM can be a great way to sell digital currency and receive physical cash up to several hundred dollars or more. Many customers take advantage of this option on a regular basis, but the process can be a bit different than what you're expecting, especially if you've never done it before. It might be helpful to reference our complete "How to Sell" guide at an Athena machine, available always from the top nav bar under "Instructions" or right here:
Below we've identified the top reasons withdrawals fail or are delayed at the ATM and how to avoid them:
Customer is not prepared to send bitcoin (or other) to the ATM
Although we used to publish the "Athena Bitcoin Wallet" app, there is no connection between it and the ATM; it is a standalone and private Bitcoin wallet. The customer must actively send us the coin from their own mobile wallet, whether Athena or otherwise.
The ATM will show the customer a QR code at the end of the withdrawal process along with the text version of that address and the exact amount they need to pay all on the same screen. That QR code is what needs to be scanned with a mobile wallet.
Customers will receive a "Processing" receipt printed at the ATM no matter what happens. This receipt does not prove that we've received any coins or the correct coins. It is safe not to pay and let the transaction expire, if desired; customers can always start over right away with a new withdrawal attempt.
Customer does not send the correct amount of coin
If the amount of coins we receive is not precisely correct the system will flag the transaction for manual review. Depending upon the circumstances, we may either change the cash amount or refund the excess coins. This will force the customer to wait much longer for their cash than had they paid the correct amount.
Customers should not type in the dollar or USD amount they are trying to withdraw into their mobile wallets. They should only type in the specific coin amount shown on the ATM screen, assuming it wasn't already captured when the QR code was scanned.
Customer pays with an exchange site, other website, or Coinbase
Exchange sites will often take an "exit fee" out of what their customers are trying to send to us, causing their payments to be smaller than requested. The sender would have to carefully adjust for this difference by adding the amount of the exit fee to the amount we request.
During periods of congestion or during system outages, the custodial wallet a customer is sending the coins from may delay actual broadcast of the transaction until possibly hours later. We have seen cases of customers waiting as much as seven hours or more before Coinbase finally delivered their bitcoin to us!
Because of both complications above, it's better for customers to just send the bitcoin to a non-custodial mobile wallet, first, so they know they have it immediately "on hand" before heading to the ATM.
Customer sends their payment with too low of a network fee
This issue primarily impacts Bitcoin. If network congestion is spiking at the time the bitcoin is sent, it's probable that the customer's transaction will be delayed by a matter of hours. Wallets do try to guess the best fee to use, but it's an imperfect science.
The only way to mitigate this--besides paying close attention to congestion levels--is to pay a "High" fee in wallets that allow this (another reason not to use most websites). Customers looking for a quick and dirty fee estimate at the time they want cash can find it at BitcoinFees.info. Feel free to contact us also for help finding the fee setting in any wallet app.
Litecoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash suffer congestion effects far less than Bitcoin. If a customer can pay for their withdrawal in any of these currencies that would be recommended. They would save on overall network fees as well.