Friday, May 10, 2013

Cash and Coins
(Bitcoins episode 3)

The image to the left is apparently an actual bitcoin ATM that currently exists in San Diego. If such devices become prolific it may soon be easy for the average person to exchange their cash for bitcoin or vice versa. My first experience with acquiring bitcoin on my own was somewhat more complicated.

Bitcoins are typically bought through a bitcoin exchange. A bitcoin exchange is like a stock exchange. People with bitcoin to sell list their asking price, and people with dollars list the price they are willing to pay. When there is a match on both sides, an exchange is made. I created an account on a U.S. based exchange called Bitfloor. To buy bitcoins I needed to fund my account. There are a variety of ways to get funds into your account, but many of them involve multi-day delays. I was hoping to take advantage of the recent bitcoin price drop and pick up some cheap before the price went back up, so I wanted a more immediate funding solution. I opted to use a service called LocalTill that allows you to deposit cash at any Bank of America location and promises the deposit (minus a service fee) will appear in your Bitfloor account in 30 minutes. It was a little unnerving anonymously depositing cash into an unknown bank account, but by the time I returned from the bank my Bitfloor account was indeed credited with my deposit.

Bitcoin prices were still falling when I decided to place a buy order at about $92, thinking they wouldn't stay under $100 long. My order was filled and I nearly doubled my bitcoin holdings. I could have done better however, as bitcoin prices continued to fall to a low of $50. But within a few days the price bounced back and I was happy with my hasty purchase.

Now that I had a bitcoin exchange account, I started thinking about how I might try buying and selling bitcoin for fun and profit! I'll tell that story in a future post.

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