BS2:2-How to use Azteco and bitcoin ATMs 🏧

My favorite way to buy bitcoin is Bisq (covered in BS2 – 3: How to buy bitcoin with Bisq of this course). However, in order to use Bisq you need a small amount of bitcoin to put up as a deposit. So we’ll first have a look at some ways to get smaller amounts of bitcoin.

Azteco bitcoin vouchers

Azteco sells vouchers that you can redeem for bitcoin at their website. You cannot buy Azteco vouchers directly from Azteco, but rather through their vendors. Currently, they have the most vendors in Europe. There are also a number in the US. If you are in other countries, Azteco may be a more difficult option for you.

Azteco vendors can be found on this map on their website. If you are close to one of the vendors you can visit them in person and pay in cash. Some vendors only offer a phone number. In this case, I recommend calling the number first. If the vendor doesn’t answer, try texting. Some vendors prefer to interact only via text.

Most vendors will accept payment through some common payment processor like Zelle, Revolut, PayPal, or the like. Once you agree on the size of Azteco voucher you’d like (between $20 and $1000–although), you send your money to the vendor.

After the vendor has received your money, they send you a four part code that you can enter on Azteco’s website, along with a receiving address from your wallet where you want the bitcoin sent.

Some wallets allow you to redeem Azteco vouchers in the wallet app. Blue Wallet, Breez, Muun, Phoenix all allow you to scan the QR code on an Azteco voucher, and the wallet takes care of the redemption process. If you are purchasing a voucher over the phone, you will still have to go to Azteco’s website and enter the code and a receiving address to redeem the voucher.

Azteco charges 2% of the transaction, and individual vendors charge an additional 2-5%. This means that you are buying bitcoin at a little bit of a premium when you use Azteco. But the fact that they don’t need to know who you are, is worth it.

Sending money to strangers

The first time I used Azteco, I will admit I was a little nervous sending money to some phone number of a person I had never met. But, as with everything in bitcoin, it doesn’t hurt to try if you start small. I contacted the vendor and asked a few questions about how it worked (what payment methods they accepted, what percentage it would cost, what the limits were).

The vendor told me that they had smaller limits for first-time customers, and that they accepted payment through Zelle. I communicated with the vendor via text message in Signal, and we established the size of the bitcoin voucher I wanted to purchase, and I sent the vendor my payment.

Once the vendor received the payment (it only took several minutes), they sent me the Azteco voucher. I went to the Azteco website and entered my voucher code and receiving address. The bitcoin transaction was recognized by my wallet within half a minute, and the transaction was included in a block in less than twenty.

I have interacted with several Azteco vendors and they have always been quite professional. Azteco works best for small amounts of bitcoin, but some vendors allow you to purchase large amounts after you have interacted with them for a while.

Bitcoin ATMs

Bitcoin ATMs are becoming more and more common. There is a handy map of bitcoin ATMs here. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: you insert cash into a bitcoin ATM and the ATM sends bitcoin to an address you provide from your wallet.

Bitcoin ATMs usually charge a high premium—higher than Azteco—and sometimes require identifying information, as well. Bitcoin ATMs also will impose daily limits on the amount of bitcoin you can buy. For these reasons, bitcoin ATMs should be considered the worst of the good options for buying bitcoin.

However, if you can find one that’s close and doesn’t require too much info (maybe just a phone number or email—You can usually find out about the identification requirements of any bitcoin ATM company by visiting their website), they can be a good way to get started with bitcoin.