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What Are the Fiat On and Off Ramps for Crypto?

What Are the Fiat On and Off Ramps for Crypto?

Explainers Essentials

19 Mar 2020

There are many ways we can improve crypto in terms of technology, utility and regulation to open up the market to more newcomers who may currently still be hesitant to get into crypto. But meaningful adoption rates depend on a 4th aspect: accessibility.

We’ve seen many developments in recent years within the crypto space, such as the creation of stablecoins and sophisticated financial services like borrowing, lending or buying into tokenized stocks. Yet these innovations are mostly to the benefit of people who are already initiated in crypto.

For more people to be able to participate in this exciting space, we need better connections between local currencies and cryptocurrencies. In other words, it’s time to focus on the fiat on and off ramps for crypto.

So, what are the current ways to move between fiat and crypto?

Cash at Bitcoin ATMs

Bitcoin ATMs are becoming more common and act as a convenient on and off ramp for buying and selling crypto. Most major cities will have at least a few Bitcoin ATMs that can be found in malls, coworking spaces, or locations with high foot traffic. Not every model works in the same way, but generally, Bitcoin ATMs take larger banknotes of a local currency and up unto a certain limit do not require users to undergo Know Your Customer (KYC) verification procedures.

Once you’ve inserted cash, Bitcoin will be sent to your Bitcoin wallet, which can take anywhere between 10 minutes to a few hours. Some Bitcoin ATMs also allow users to sell Bitcoin back for cash, but this is not always the case.

The fees average out to 7% and are built into the exchange rate. Some service providers may also charge a flat fee on top of the exchange rate.


Over-the-counter services, or OTCs, are likewise very easy to use as a fiat on and off ramp for buying and selling crypto. Generally speaking, for most OTCs you’ll have to complete simple KYC/AML procedures, after which you have access to a network of buyers and sellers advertising their prices. Methods to pay vary per OTC platform, and on AAX you can buy and sell crypto via bank transfers, AliPay and WeChat.

Some OTC platforms are standalone services, where, for example, you buy Bitcoin via bank which is then transferred a BTC wallet address you own. Other OTCs are connected to an exchange providing the primary fiat on and off ramps for the traders on that exchange.

Bank transfers & credit cards through crypto exchanges

Besides the OTC method, some exchanges also accept direct bank transfers and credit card payments. Direct bank transfers to crypto exchanges typically incur some difficulties one way or another, as in most jurisdictions banks are still weary of banking crypto exchanges in anticipation of more comprehensive regulatory frameworks being put into action.

It may very well be that at some point your exchange of choice no longer supports bank transfers, even if only temporarily. Of course, should that happen, you can always use a different withdrawal method that is available at the exchange, or transfer your crypto funds to another exchange account that does provide the withdrawal methods you want.

Credit cards are a familiar way to purchase things online and therefore probably the easiest way to buy crypto for most people. However, it should be noted that this is typically a very expensive way to buy crypto with fees built into the exchange rate varying between 7% and 9%. Plus, bear in mind that you won’t be able to withdraw crypto directly to your credit card account.

A better connection between fiat and crypto

The need for a better connection between fiat and crypto is not only about adoption, but about practicality too. While there are many applications for stablecoins in the digital world. Daily personal expenses such as simply doing groceries, paying for rent or perhaps a bigger purchase like getting a new car is still mostly done with fiat currencies.

So, for more people to more easily use the gains they make from trading crypto, and spend it in their daily life, we need to make the switch between fiat and crypto as seamless as possible.

Learn more about the best ways to convert crypto to fiat and back

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