Acquiring and spending Bitcoins can be a daunting and frustrating task for those that are new to the practice. Personally I wrote Bitcoins off for several years thinking that they were just a fad. As I’ve learned more about them, I’ve started to change my mind. The big appeal to Bitcoins is that they are considered an ‘open source’ payment method. Open source meaning that there is no bank, government, or stock market speculators controlling or influencing the value. No bank can suddenly decide to freeze your account because they don’t like what you’re doing. Transferring funds from one person to the other is normally very inexpensive and happens in moments…anywhere on the planet. This can fluctuate depending on network traffic, but there are upgrades in the works to improve the traffic situation.
There are 3 main steps to getting and spending Bitcoins:
Step 1: You Need a Wallet
When it comes to physical hard currency like US Dollars, you need a place to put your money. Most people would place their money in their wallet or purse. Just like real money, Bitcoins need a secure place to live, and that’s where Bitcoin wallets come into place. Wallets will hold your Bitcoins, and they will also provide the ability to send or receive Bitcoins. Every wallet has what’s called an address which is an encrypted string of characters. The address would look something like this: 1FsvwKaqJgUNetTnh2QyiKnPB6qE9DgUFk. You’ll also have a QR code representing your address that can be scanned by a mobile device.
So how do you get a wallet?
There are 2 main flavors of wallets. Apps that you download to your computer/mobile device or website based solutions. The absolute best I’ve found so far is BitPay. BitPay is strictly a downloadable app to your computer or mobile device, so you don’t have to worry about a website providing adequate security.
There are TONS of other options out there, so feel free to look around if you would like. However, I can tell you from experience that many of them will cause you to have a mental breakdown…seriously, you’ve been warned. Your wallet of choice will have you go through some security protocols to keep your Bitcoins safe. They are digital currency after all, so security from hackers and thieves is very important.
Step 2: Buy Some Bitcoins
This can definitely be the hardest and most confusing step. For years there have been Bitcoin exchanges where random people from all over the world come up with elaborate methods for you to prove your identity and purchase the Bitcoins from them. Fortunately, some really talented folks have built platforms that make the process much more comforting.
We feel the best method for our customers is to visit a Bitcoin ATM located near you with a mobile Bitcoin wallet and cash. No IDs, names, or logins required. With Bitcoin on your mobile wallet, our checkout is fast & easy. You can also trade Amazon gift cards or Vanilla Visa cards at Local Bitcoins for Bitcoin.
You can also sign up for an account at Coinbase and get Bitcoin for great rates, but they require a lot of personal info.
Step 3: Spend Your Bitcoins!
In order to send someone Bitcoins, you just need their wallet’s address or their QR code that can be scanned with a mobile device. If you’re making a purchase on RubRatings for instance, during the checkout process the address you need to send the Bitcoins to will be provided along with the amount.
You would click ‘Send’ in your App or Web based wallet of choice, copy/paste/scan the correct wallet address, and type in the amount of currency you want to send them. And voila, the Bitcoins are transferred to them – anywhere in the world.
We get notified when the Bitcoins are transferred over, and then the checkout process is completed. The acceptance of Bitcoins is typically instantaneous, but sometimes network delays can hold up the process. If that is the case, please contact our support on the checkout page and we’ll get you fixed up in a jiffy.
Hopefully the steps above weren’t too stressful for you. Every year that goes by, things get easier and more accessible when it comes to Bitcoins and other crytpocurrencies. If you’re interested in reading more on the subject, there is a wealth of knowledge out there at your fingertips just by using your favorite search engine. I personally feel that the peer-to-peer nature and freedom of the currency are going to propel Bitcoins into the distant future.
Guide by Chris Andrews