At the time of this writing, Bitcoin has surpassed USD 50,000. It started trading in July of 2010 at USD 0.0008, and one year ago today it was at USD 5,866.90. Obviously, it’s experiencing tremendous growth and it’s making plenty of people wonder if and how they should buy Bitcoin. Read on to learn more!
1. Buy and Sell Online
Crypto was once the purview of uber-geeks, but it’s going mainstream these days. It’s possible to buy Bitcoin with popular payment services such as PayPal, Robinhood (online investment brokerage), and Square’s CashApp. This is almost certainly the easiest way to get started, and everyone has to start somewhere, but there are fees associated with the transactions.
There are also well-established online exchanges where it’s relatively easy to get started buying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. They aren’t quite as newbie-friendly as PayPal or CashApp; buyers should have at least an idea of the crypto marketplace before making a purchase here. Exchanges do tend to offer a wider variety of cryptocurrencies than the financial services listed above, and that’s a good thing because there are plenty of other coins that are poised for a similar rise.
2. Buy and Sell Peer-to-Peer
In most cases, peer-to-peer transactions are technically online transactions as well because that’s the way most buyers and sellers find each other. However, the transactions are negotiated individually and so are the payments. Since a lot of sellers on a peer-to-peer marketplace are individuals, they may not be able to take credit or debit cards directly, but there are plenty of third-party payment services these days. Buyers may be able to buy Bitcoin with other cryptocurrencies, or they can set up wire transfers, cash transfers, or any other mutually acceptable arrangement.
As with any other peer-to-peer platform, caution and due diligence is recommended, especially because crypto is designed to be anonymous and unregulated. People who are new at the crypto game may prefer to use one of the established exchanges until they feel more confident.
3. Buy and Sell at ATMs
If there was any doubt that Bitcoin has made it to Main Street, the fact that people can buy and sell at automated teller machines should clear that right up. BATMs (Bitcoin automatic teller machines) work similarly to the ATMs that most people are already familiar with, except that they connect to a Bitcoin exchange instead of a bank network. All BATMs are set up for users to sell their Bitcoin for cash, and some also make it possible to buy Bitcoin right at the machine.
BATM providers include Bitcoin Depot, Bitnovo, BitVending, General Bytes, and Lamassu. Localcoin is based in Toronto. Netcoins provides Canadians with “virtual ATMs” through a smartphone app that facilitates buying and selling cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.
4. Buy Stuff
More and more merchants are accepting cryptocurrency as payment. Most of them are online, but there are some brick-and-mortar stores that are learning how to accept crypto payments in person – and there will likely be many more in the near future, as Mastercard has announced that it will integrate digital crypto payments into its network this year.
For now, though, major retailers that accept crypto payments online include Microsoft, Overstock, Home Depot, and Newegg. Virgin Galactic also lets people book their space travel with Bitcoin. People who want to gamble even more with their crypto can fund their accounts at online casinos.
It’s even possible to spend your cryptocurrency at merchants who have not set themselves up to accept it. Several gift card retailers accept Bitcoin for the purchase of gift cards to stores such as Sephora, GameStop, GAP, Walmart, Uber, Rogers, and more. Generic Visa and Mastercard gift cards are also available, which means that people can effectively spend their Bitcoin everywhere that takes credit cards.
Similarly to peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchanges, there are also exchanges that pair up people who want to buy Bitcoin and people who want to buy things. The seller, who has gift cards, store credit, or employee discounts (no comment on the ethics here), will actually make the purchase in their name and have the item shipped to the buyer, who pays the seller in cryptocurrency.