What the hardest part about getting into Bitcoin? If you’re like most people who are first starting out, you’re probably trying to figure out how to actually buy it, right?
Personally, it took me years from when I first heard of Bitcoin before I actually took the initiative to purchase some myself. Luckily for those who are just starting out in 2017, buying Bitcoin has come a long way from its early days and has become a consumer-friendly product. Not only is it easier to buy, but there are now secure online platforms you can use to make your transfers and storage safer.
Today, the easiest way to buy Bitcoin is through Coinbase. All of your digital currency is fully insured if Coinbase suffers a significant breach and all your fiat money is backed by the FDIC. Coinbase is the safest and easiest way to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
How to Sign Up for Coinbase
To sign up for Coinbase, click here. Once you sign up, you start the process of verifying your identity and adding bank account information to transfer funds in and out of the platform. It will take a few days to set up but once you do, you can instantly buy and hodl the crypto of your choice.
Also, Coinbase offers an incentive to get others to sign up. For every $100 someone spends on Coinbase that you recruit, you get $10 of Bitcoin, and they receive $10 of Bitcoin as well. It is a great, simple way to introduce your friends and family to Bitcoin
The Drawbacks of Coinbase
Although Coinbase is the easiest way to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it does come with some downsides depending on how much you care. When you hold your Bitcoin on an exchange, you always run the risk of having your account hacked; Coinbase is not responsible for those stolen funds. In addition, you are at the mercy of Coinbase’s decisions and not your own. An example of Coinbase showing their power was in the case of the Bitcoin Cash hard forks. While people holding wallets were able to split their Bitcoin, Coinbase users have to wait until the end of 2017 to receive theirs. It’s these details that take out individual agency that may concern people on how a decentralized product such as Bitcoin is becoming more centralized. There is the simple alternative to this problem.
How to Use a Bitcoin Wallet
When I first wanted to buy Bitcoin, I was in the process of verifying myself on Coinbase. I couldn’t wait, and I knew I didn’t want to risk holding it on an online platform. Instead, I decided to go the Bitcoin ATM route and searched for one near me. I then downloaded a Bitcoin wallet, which is basically an offline place to store your Bitcoin. There are a number of wallets to choose from like Jaxx and Exodus that can store not only Bitcoin but other cryptocurrencies too, but my personal preference is Electrum. It solely stores Bitcoin, but in my opinion is simple to use.
When setting up your wallet for the first time, write down your seed phrase and store them somewhere safe. This part is vital because if you forget your password, this is this the only way to retrieve your funds. Once done completing the onboarding process, you get to a screen that will show a complete history of your Bitcoin transactions. Next, click the receive tab and write down the address (or copy the QR code) shown. This address is needed for when you want to receive Bitcoin; your wallet automatically regenerates new addresses once an old one is used.
Once you have your address, get some cash and make your way to the Bitcoin ATM of your choice. Enter your receiving address into the ATM and deposit the cash and voila! It’s that easy. By the time you get home and check your wallet, your Bitcoin will already be there.
Purchasing Bitcoin has never been easier, but it does come with its trade-offs. Coinbase is best in terms of ease of access, but you have to give up a few freedoms for it. Although you are in complete control when you have a wallet, there is an element of personal responsibility involved. Even though I think a wallet is better for long-term storage, there is no right or wrong answer on how you want to handle your Bitcoin. Just remember to do your research and do ever what you feel most comfortable with.