Located in one of the hotels in Poblacion, Makati is this bitcoin ATM machine:
(Yes, yes, I know “ATM machine” is automated teller machine machine.)
And yes, Poblacion is where the famous P. Burgos St. can be found.
For the uninitiated, P. Burgos is famous because it is a known red light district. BUT! In case you haven’t been there recently, it’s actually been turning into a hipster spot with fancy coffee shops and cool new restaurants.
It opened for business about three years ago in May 2015, making it one of the first bitcoin ATMs in the Philippines. The first one was a “traveling ATM” installed by bitmarket.ph back in 2014. I actually didn’t know these ATMs even existed until I saw posts about it on the Cryptocurrency Philippines Facebook group. When I saw a bunch of people posting selfies at this ATM, I knew I had to check it out.
The hotel isn’t hard to find but if you’re taking an Uber or Grab, you may want to pay close attention as it’s easy to make a wrong turn.
When you get to the hotel, just go straight and then make a left where the elevators are. The guards don’t ask questions; it seems they’re used to people just going straight for the ATM.
This machine allows you to buy two cryptocurrencies: bitcoin and litecoin. You can also withdraw. But for this post, I can only tell you about my litecoin purchase. I’ll write a separate one when I withdraw!
But first: How’s the spread?
I’m going to show you my handy dandy spreadsheet again and compare my purchase with Coinbase‘s as it is the most popular place to buy litecoin in the US. Coinbase is not open to Philippine citizens as of this writing.
Note that the Coinbase fee increases as the amount you’re buying increases. The numbers below are based off my ₱2,000 LTC purchase that I did via the ATM. In USD that is $40 if we use the USD/PHP rate of $1:₱50. The usual Coinbase fee for credit card purchases of $100 and above is 3.8%.
I’m also not sure if this bitcoin ATM charges separate fees as I didn’t see it broken down during my entire process of buying. I’m assuming the fees are already baked in the sell price.
|Dashboard Price||$245.86 or ₱12,293||$261.37 or ₱13,068.57|
|Transaction Fees||$1.22 buy spread + 1.99% Coinbase fee for credit card transactions (instant buy) $50 or lower / 3.84% for $100 or higher (dashboard price vs. actual buy price)||N/A (I didn’t see any breakdown of the fees while buying)|
|Actual LTC price including buy spread and fees||$259.99 or ₱12,999.74||$261.37 or ₱13,068.57|
|Price difference between Coinbase and the bitcoin ATM||$1.38 or ₱69|
Dat price difference doe! Not bad, right?!
I was actually thinking of buying bitcoin but because I just bought some from coins.ph, I thought I’d switch it up a bit and try litecoin for those wanting to buy.
How to buy litecoin from the bitcoin ATM
The process is pretty straightforward but here’s a quick list of the things you’ll need before you head there:
- Your phone
- You’ll need this to verify your identity because they’ll send you a code via your mobile number
- You will also need this in case you don’t have a printed version of your QR code address
- Cash that you’ll be depositing to your litecoin account
- Your litecoin wallet address
- Presence of mind in case someone robs you – listen – you never know. Don’t bring unnecessary things when you go here. Leave your bling at home. Pretend you’re going to Divisoria.
Step-by-step litecoin purchase process:
I didn’t create a paper wallet from this machine so for this process, I’m going to assume you already know where to send your litecoin.
Select Buy Coins from the main screen.
Type in your mobile number in the Identity Verification screen.
Agree to the Terms and Conditions of Service because what choice do we really have if we want to use this ATM…
Type in the SMS code that was sent to your phone.
You can scan your wallet’s QR code using the scanner on the right hand side of the machine or type in your address manually (error prone!!!).
You can take a screenshot from your phone and then just use that or print the QR code.
If you’re having trouble scanning your wallet or realize you’d rather create a new wallet, you can still do so.
Start cold sweating as you insert your peso bills.
Watch and be fascinated as the amount is registered as LTC on the screen.
Print the receipt. Keep it as your souvenir.
Voila! Wait a couple minutes for your wallet address to be loaded with the same amount of LTC that was printed on your receipt.
Buying litecoin from this bitcoin ATM was a pretty smooth experience and the spread is definitely not bad. If you don’t have access to LTC, this has to be your best bet because you won’t have to deal with exchanging your BTC for LTC anymore. You can have it directly as LTC.
My only concern here is safety. I definitely don’t recommend going here by yourself and at night.
I’m not sure if there are other bitcoin ATMs in Manila but so far I’ve only tried this one in Sunette Towers. If you’ve tried other machines, let me know in the comments section!