How to buy Bitcoin in 2019
Unless you’ve been living in an off-the-grid cabin in the woods these past few years, you’ve probably heard of bitcoin – the world’s first and most famous digital cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin has racked up numerous headlines because of its mind-boggling rise in value. The price of one bitcoin crossed the $1,000 threshold in January 2017, reached an astonishing $19,000 in December of that year and then lost more than 50% of its value during the first quarter of 2018.
These headline-grabbing price swings have garnered a lot of interest in bitcoin, but those who are new to the world of cryptocurrencies may wonder: where do you even start? Well, the first step is getting some bitcoin, and there are a number of ways you can do that.
Bitcoin can be bought from cryptocurrency exchanges, directly from other people via peer-to-peer marketplaces, from select retail stores around the world, or from bitcoin ATMs. You can pay for your coins using hard cash, credit or debit cards, wire transfers, PayPal and even other cryptocurrencies.
This article covers the steps you need to follow to quickly buy bitcoin in 2019.
1. Set up a bitcoin wallet
The first step is to set up a digital “wallet” for storing your bitcoin. There are a variety of wallet options available, including online wallets (provided by an exchange or independent provider), desktop wallets, mobile wallets, or offline wallets like hardware wallets (Ledger, Trezor, etc.) and paper wallets.
Visit Bitcoin.org to see a list of available wallets in each of those categories with information on how to use them. It’s important to do some research on the security of your chosen wallet before you use it to store your bitcoin.
2. Buying bitcoin online
The best option for buying bitcoin online are cryptocurrency exchanges. There are hundreds of exchanges available with varying degrees of liquidity and security.
Just like with wallets, it’s important to do some research before choosing an exchange. Not all exchanges work worldwide, so check to see if your desired exchange accepts registration of citizens from your country first.
Many exchanges now require users to verify their identity during the account setup process in order to comply with anti-money laundering and know-your-client (KYC) regulations. You may need to post a picture of a government-issued ID as well as a proof of address before you can use an exchange.
Exchanges generally accept payment via credit card or bank transfer, and some even allow PayPal transfers. They all charge trading fees (up to 5%) that generally include the fees for using the bitcoin network.
Once an exchange receives a payment, it will buy a corresponding amount of bitcoin on your behalf and deposit it into the wallet it automatically generates for you when you sign up. The transfer process can take minutes or several hours depending on the status of the network. For security reasons, you should move your bitcoin to a secure off-exchange wallet once the transfer is complete.
Coinbase and Bitfinex currently carry the largest trading volume of Bitcoin for trades involving U.S. dollars. Other high-volume exchanges include Bitstamp, Simex, and Kraken.
Check the legal status of bitcoin in your country before you use an exchange. There are a few countries that have outright banned or restricted the use and sale of cryptocurrencies, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Taiwan, Cambodia, and Indonesia.
3. Buying bitcoin offline
If you want to buy bitcoin offline using cash, then peer-to-peer exchange platforms like LocalBitcoins.com are your best bet. LocalBitcoins can help you find individuals in your area who are looking to sell their bitcoin for cash.
You can also buy bitcoin from retail stores. LibertyX.com has a list of retailers across the U.S. that exchange cash for bitcoin.
Bitcoin ATMs are another good option. They work just like regular ATMs – you feed them cash, hold up your bitcoin wallet’s QR code to a scanner, and a corresponding amount of bitcoin is transferred to your wallet address. Use Coinatmradar.com to find a bitcoin ATM in your area.
If you want to buy bitcoin anonymously, then bitcoin ATMs and peer-to-peer exchanges like LocalBitcoins.com are the best options.
Buying bitcoin today is not as complicated as it was just a few years ago. There are now several options, including cryptocurrency exchanges, ATMs, retail stores, and peer-to-peer platforms that can connect you to people near you who sell bitcoin for cash.
Remember, choosing a wallet for securely storing your bitcoin is the first step. Don’t even think of buying bitcoin until you have one up and running. Once you’ve set up your wallet, make sure you keep your wallet keys and/or passwords safe. If you lose them, you will lose access to your stored bitcoins – forever.
One final tip: If you’re buying bitcoins for the first time or are using a new exchange, then you should probably start with a small “test” amount (below 0.1 BTC) first to see how it goes. The cryptocurrency world is still in its infancy and much of it is unregulated. It’s easy to get scammed with no recompense. Keep your wits about you and invest with caution.