HOW CAN I BUY BITCOIN?
So you’ve learned the basics of bitcoin, now you’re excited about its potential and want to buy some. But how?
Bitcoin can be bought on exchanges or directly from other people via marketplaces.
You can purchase bitcoin in a variety of ways, using anything from hard cash to credit and debit cards to wire transfers, or even other cryptocurrencies, depending on who you are buying them from and where you live.
The first step is to set up a wallet to store your bitcoin – you will need one, whether you’re buying bitcoin online or with cash. This could be an online wallet (either part of an exchange platform, or via an independent provider), a desktop wallet, a mobile wallet or an offline one (such as a hardware device or a paper wallet).
You can find more information on some of the wallets out there, as well as tips on how to use them, here and here.
The most important part of any wallet is keeping your keys and/or passwords safe. If you lose them, you lose access to the bitcoin stored there. In addition, never invest more than you can afford to lose – cryptocurrencies are volatile and their prices could go down as well as up.
If you want to buy bitcoin online, you can open an account at a cryptocurrency exchange that will buy and sell bitcoin on your behalf. There are hundreds currently operating, with varying degrees of liquidity and security, and new ones continue to emerge while others end up closing down due to hacking. As with wallets, it is advisable to do some research before choosing – you may be lucky enough to have several reputable exchanges to choose from, or there might just be one or two based on your geographical area.
High-volume exchanges include Coinbase, Bitfinex, Bitstamp and Poloniex. For small amounts, most reputable exchanges should work well.
With the clampdown on know-your-client (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) regulation, many exchanges now require verified identification for account setup. This usually includes a photo of your official ID, and sometimes also a proof of address.
Most exchanges accept payments via bank transfers or credit cards, and some are willing to work with Paypal transfers. They typically charge fees for each transaction, which include the cost for using the bitcoin network.
A bitcoin transaction takes anywhere from a few minutes to a couple days to process, depending on the traffic in the network as well as the fee attached to that transaction.
Once the exchange has received payment, it will purchase the corresponding amount of bitcoin on your behalf, and deposit them in an automatically generated wallet on the exchange. You should then move the funds to your off-exchange wallet.
If you prefer to buy bitcoin with cash, platforms such as LocalBitcoins will help find individuals near you who are willing to exchange bitcoin for cash. Also, LibertyX lists retail outlets across the United States at which you can exchange cash for bitcoin. And WallofCoins, Paxful and BitQuick will direct you to a bank branch near you that will allow you to make a cash deposit and receive bitcoin a few hours later.
Bitcoin ATMs are machines that will send bitcoin to your wallet in exchange for cash. They operate in a similar way to bank ATMs – you feed in the bills, hold your wallet’s QR code up to a screen, and the corresponding amount of bitcoin is beamed to your account. Coinatmradar can help you to find a bitcoin ATM near you.
(Note: specific businesses mentioned here are not the only options available, and should not be taken as a recommendation.)
By Noelle Acheson, John Biggs and Hoa Nguyen