Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are in the news, and for good reason. They’re a disruptive type of currency that’s global and accessible to a large percentage of the population.
And of course, they are newsworthy for the amazing (yet unsustainable) price gains and swings in value.
Buying, exchanging, and obtaining Bitcoin and other currencies is now simple. There’s no longer a mystique or confusion around Bitcoin, as the barriers to purchasing have fallen.
Now it’s easy for you to purchase and use the coins as currency or to hold them as investments.
Hit the ATM
Bitcoin ATMs, or “BTMs” for short, are kiosks similar in structure to traditional ATMs. They enable people to conduct in-person Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency transactions. BTMs are important for the global growth of Bitcoin as a form of payment and are useful for underbanked communities. These BTMs offer seamless experiences where users turn their fiat currency into the cryptocurrency of their choice.
Worried about security? Don’t be. The same companies that manage networks of traditional ATMs also handle BTMs. So, the level of security in place to protect the transaction is just as comprehensive for both types of machines. There’s also a significant amount of growth in the BTM market. For example, there are companies such as ours, Bitcoin Depot, which manages more than 500 Bitcoin-enabled ATMs, part of a broader network of more than 2,000 BTMs throughout the United States.
Peer-to-peer or person-to-person crypto trading involves traders using a platform to exchange Bitcoin and other digital currencies between themselves. In some cases, platforms allow in-person and even cash-based transactions, but some platforms have banned these types of transactions. Cash-based transactions are attractive for underbanked populations that want to gain access to Bitcoin but might have limited access to traditional bank accounts. These platforms offer anonymous buying through a blind escrow process, which removes the chance of either buyer or seller knowing the other’s identity.
Like buying concert or sporting event tickets from someone online through a service, exercise the same cautions with person-to-person Bitcoin exchanges. Pick a platform with a solid reputation for security and seamless transactions, as that will attract trustworthy people. Some person-to-person exchanges have experienced problems, so look for a more established platform such as LocalBitcoins.com or others that have existed for several years.
Find an Exchange
A very popular way to purchase Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies is through an online centralized exchange. These exchanges allow customers to trade cryptocurrencies or digital currencies for fiat money or for other digital currencies.
For purchasers in the U.S. there are several exchanges, but many buyers go to the biggest firms. These include Coinbase, Gemini, and Kraken, among others. Each of these exchanges manage billions of dollars’ worth of virtual currencies. Most centralized exchanges act as their user’s wallet, which in cryptocurrency speak is just a secure place to hold digital currency, similar to a bank account. It is much safer, however, to choose decentralized services which allow the use of a wallet that is controlled by the user themselves. There are many variations of these, which really only differ in terms of security. They include simple phone apps, hardware wallets (a kind of key-fob device), and even “cold storage” methods such as paper wallets, which keep funds safe without any digital component.
Key notes about the platforms:
- Coinbase is a good choice for beginners as it’s easy to use through an online portal or app. It accepts credit and debit card payments, and features a smooth user-friendly interface.
- Gemini and Kraken offer lower fees than Coinbase, and feature more obscure cryptocurrencies
- Kraken is one of the world’s oldest cryptocurrency exchanges, and leads for Bitcoin-to-Euro conversions. Both Kraken and Coinbase have considerably higher volume than Gemini.
- Gemini and Coinbase hold customer’s dollar cash funds in FDIC-covered accounts, providing buyers with an added layer of reassurance.
Work for It
In the United States, there are some instances of companies paying their employees with Bitcoin. However, the legality of this form of payment can get tricky. It’s more common to find freelance gigs that pay in Bitcoin than full time jobs. Some sites, such as Cryptogrind and Coinality, offer job platforms for freelancers looking for work that is paid in cryptocurrency. These sites also feature many fiat-paying jobs in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries.
Companies offering such work are embracing the global economy by paying people in Bitcoin, which can be universally exchanged without the need for international conversion. Freelancers earning cryptocurrency are spared the need to convert the funds they’re paid back into their native fiat currency. If you’re a consultant, writer, designer, or other freelancer, consider mixing in some jobs that pay in blockchain-based digital currencies.
For buyers looking at Bitcoin as a longer-term investment, there’s instant diversification with cryptocurrency. The decentralization of these assets make them uniquely untouchable by centralized forms of government. They are less affected by country-specific issues that might impact the stock market. If you’re interested in purchasing Bitcoin, be sure to engage in some due diligence about the easiest and most secure ways to complete a transaction. Consider starting out with a BTM and opening a wallet you can control such as Edge Wallet. Then perhaps venture out as you become more comfortable with owning and selling cryptocurrencies.
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