A while ago we started a series of blog posts called “So you want to know about Bitcoin” (you can find Step 1 here, which detailed how to get a bitcoin wallet). We’ve been crazily busy since then developing our platform, so apologies for the delay in doing any further steps, but here is your next step: How to Buy Bitcoin!
If you’ve got this far, you’ve probably had a moment like this…
…and we think you’re right! There are many reasons that you should at least try it, but breaking your way in to the bitcoin world can be a bit daunting. So hopefully this post can help smooth the way.
If you’re new to bitcoin, online exchanges might be the most attractive to you because of their levels of security and the reassurance that comes from buying from a trusted company. In order to be able to buy or sell through these exchanges, you will first have to comply with a number of know-your-customer (KYC)/anti-money laundering (AML) procedures, which will probably include providing proof-of-residence and a copy of some photo ID. This is unavoidable as it is with almost any other financial exchange.
Here in Hong Kong, the main exchanges are BitFinex and ANXBTC. BitFinex is the world’s largest bitcoin exchange and has a great trading platform, but it does only accept US Dollars via bank transfer. ANXBTC is simpler to use and will accept HKD by bank transfer or you can go into one of their stores directly.
If you live in the United States, the major exchanges are Coinbase, Coinsetter and Kraken. All are very well-run exchanges and very easy-to-use. Coinbase stands out of this crowd by offering deposit via US credit card once you have verified it with them.
If you’re in the UK your best options are Coinfloor, CoinCorner or Bittylicious, the last of which is probably your best bet as long as you can look beyond their name! They accept small trades via bank transfer without needing any details from you, meaning that they are a great place to get started with bitcoin.
The UK can be a bit tricky due to the banks still being wary of bitcoin, but Coindesk offers a good guide on how to avoid any hiccups here.
For anyone who doesn’t live in the countries mentioned above, fear not! A lot of these exchanges do offer their services internationally, albeit with varying fees. Try searching “[your country] bitcoin exchange” in Google and there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll find one that serves your country. Otherwise, the options below might suit you better.
Peer-to-peer exchanges are sites that provide a directory of people near you who are looking to buy or sell bitcoin. They will list the price that these sellers offer, the payment methods that they accept and a rating based on customer feedback. These sites provide a less intrusive option (usually no need to provide ID etc), but are still safe if you choose a well-rated seller. You will simply agree on a price with a seller before organising a bank transfer directly to them, and when they receive this your bitcoins will be released from an escrow account. Alternatively, many of these sites allow for users to organise a meeting in person and pay by cash.
The most popular of these is LocalBitcoins.com, which is available in over 200 countries and is generally regarded as being a safe and reliable place to buy bitcoin.
Another good option for buying bitcoin from someone face-to-face is to find your local bitcoin meetup. There are usually several people that come to these events who will be willing to sell your bitcoin for cash right away. Bitcoin.meetup.com is a good place to look for these meetings.
Bitcoin ATMs (also known as BTMs)
A lot of major cities nowadays have a number of Bitcoin ATMs. If you’re lucky enough to live near to one of these, this is a very simple way of getting yourself some bitcoin. CoinATMRadar is a good website where you can find the closest one to you.
The process should be pretty straightforward; you just waltz up to the machine, put some cash in, scan your wallet QR code, and away you go with your new bitcoin! However, be aware that depending on where you live there will be different levels of compliance checks. Some ATMs could require photos of your ID and scans of your fingerprint, for example.
So these are the main options for you to buy bitcoin. As I hope you can see, with a little bit of conviction it really isn’t hard to get hold of it. So what are you waiting for? Go forth and buy bitcoin!