What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a decentralized, peer to peer, digital currency system, designed to give online users the ability to process transactions via digital unit of exchange known as Bitcoins. In other words, it is a virtual currency.
The Bitcoin system was created in the year 2009 by an undisclosed programmer(s). Since then, Bitcoin has garnered huge attention as well as controversy as an alternative to US dollar, Euros and commodity currencies such as gold and silver.
Rise to Popularity
Bitcoin had not attained much attention in the world of business and finance before the year 2009. It rose to prominence in the 2011-2012 period when it gained over 300%. Bitcoin has had a 400% growth in its value since the August of last year. As a result, venture capital firms and investors around the world continue to pay importance to the cryptocurrency.
In the first half of 2014, venture capital firms invested $57 million in Bitcoin in the first quarter, followed by another $73 million in the second quarter amounting to a total of $130 million, which is 50% greater than last year’s total of $88 million. This is a complete contrast to the scenario in 2012 where Bitcoin firms amassed a relatively meagre sum of $2.2 million.
These statistics prove beyond doubt that Bitcoin is worth your investment, which begs the question, how can you buy and invest in Bitcoin?
A guideline for novice investors in Bitcoin
The easiest and least complicated method to invest in Bitcoin is by purchasing bitcoins. There are a lot of established firms, mainly in the US as well as abroad, who are involved in the business of buying and selling bitcoins, abbreviated as BTC.
If you are living in the U.S. then Coinbase is the place you’re looking for. Coinbase provides it’s clients with BTC at an estimated mark up of 1% over the existing market price. Residents of the United States have the option to sync their Coinbase wallets with their bank accounts. As a result, future payment transfers are made hassle free. This company also gives you the option of automatic bitcoin buying from time to time. For instance, if you’re interested to purchase $50 in bitcoins at the beginning of each month, Coinbase allows you to set up an auto buy for that amount.
Be mindful of the terms and conditions before you begin to use this service. If you have subscribed to an automatic bit coin service, then you will not be able to control the price at which the BTC is bought every month. Note that Coinbase is does not function as a Bitcoin exchange i.e. you buy and sell the coins directly from the firm. Since the firm has to source the coins from other buyers, you may face delays or disruptions when laying orders during fast market moves.
BitStamp suits the requirements of a conventional bitcoin exchange. Bitcoin acts as an intermediary which allows you to trade with other users and not the company itself. Here the liquidity is higher and you always have a good chance to find someone who is willing to trade with you. There is an initial fee of 0.5% which can be reduced to 0.2% if you trade $150,000 in a period of 30 days.
Alternative ways to purchase Bitcoins
Exchanging isn’t the only method of investment in bitcoins. Local Bitcoins is often used to buy BTC offline. The website is designed to link potential buyers and sellers. The bitcoins are locker from the seller in an escrow and can only be released to buyers.
Buying bitcoins offline isn’t always very reliable or safe. Hence it’s preferable to meet the sellers during daytime and let a friend tag along with you just in case things go south.