Detroit is a well known industrial city and Michigan’s most populous city. However, the region has been dealing with a tumultuous economy and the city residents have been suffering from financial hardships for years. That hasn’t stopped a large influx of bitcoin ATMs from being installed in the city as Detroit now has over 29 machines. The regional newspaper the Detroit News reveals that most of these devices reside in areas with a shortage of banks and low-income housing areas like Inkster, Highland Park, Taylor, Hamtramck, and Pontiac. There are 15 more crypto-ATMs on the outskirts of Metro Detroit as well. Ayman Rida, an executive from a company called ‘International Bitcoin’ installed a good chunk of the machines located in the Metro Detroit region.
“My company installed 15 Bitcoin ATMs last year in Detroit,” explains Rida in an Interview. Rida says most transactions are roughly between $70-80 USD. “Last year, the business grew very, very good at the locations,” Rida adds.
Cryptocurrency proponents in the area believe the Detroit crypto-ATMs help the underbanked within the region. Although, some law-enforcement officials believe some of the action may be helping facilitate illegal activities and money laundering. A cryptocurrency researcher from a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) believes bitcoin in Detroit is probably being used for both of those theories.
“The truth is, it could be both scenarios,” Yaya Fanusie explains. “It’s a guess because the technology is new — We need time to collect data,”
The fact that [Bitcoin ATMs] are in the kind of areas you describe, only says how much digital currency is growing worldwide — Bitcoin has sort of grown as way to provide services to the unbanked and underbanked.
According to the local news outlet, 14 Detroit stores in the Metro region with bitcoin ATMs were contacted, but none of the owners wanted to make a statement. The FDD researcher Fanusie doesn’t believe that money laundering is a big issue for crypto-ATM owners in Detroit. Fanusie emphasizes, “That kind of money would essentially be noticed by federal regulators — But if you want to use them to pay a local drug dealer, say $50 to $100, then maybe it’s OK, effective.”
Michigan and the Detroit region is home to quite a few bitcoiners. Besides the bitcoin ATMs, there are large Meetup groups as well. The ‘Michigan Bitcoiners’ Meetup has over 988 members that congregate in Detroit. The ‘Detroit Blockchainers’ Meetup has 488 members, and the group holds a weekly meeting in Metro Detroit where attendees can trade cryptocurrencies with other people in person.
“Come trade cryptocurrency like it’s 1792,” the Detroit Blockchainers state.