Getting Started With Bitcoin

People using bitcoin

Your Wallet

A wallet is where you send, receive, and store your Bitcoins. A web wallet is like having an account you can manage through a third party (such as an exchange), and a local wallet is like storing your funds at home in a safe (or under the mattress).

In the real world, your unique wallet ID is a string of digits that may look like this:

31uEbMgunupShBVTewXjtqbBv5MndwfX

You can use a wallet shortener to make your wallet address easier to use, or even generate a QR code that can be easily scanned.

Desktop Wallets

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Desktop Wallets

Desktop wallets are the most private, as they store your bitcoins on your own computer and allow you to control the security level. However, that also means that you need to install software than can take up a lot space since you always have to download and update the Blockchain.

Web Wallets

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Web Wallets

Web wallets hold the Blockchain information so you don’t have to, are easy to use for transactions, and are a way to keep your Bitcoins in another location for safety. They are, however, less private, and it is best to use services with security features such as Yubikeys and Google Authenticator to protect your account.

Mobile Wallets

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Mobile Wallets

Mobile wallets allow you to bring Bitcoin with you in your pocket. You can exchange coins easily and pay in physical stores by scanning a QR code or using NFC “tap to pay”. As with web wallets, they are less secure than desktop wallets, so please install two-factor authentication tools such as Google Authenticator.

Buying Bitcoins

There are a range of ways to acquire bitcoins, which vary from country to country. Exchanges, brokers, and individuals all offer bitcoins for sale or trade. One easy way to get Bitcoins is to find someone who has them and buy or trade for them! Services like Local Bitcoins can help you find these people.

In the countries where they are authorized, exchanges have a more involved registration process, but make buying and selling very easy. Once your identity has been verified, you can send funds from your real world bank account to your exchange of choice, and then buy/sell at your convenience.

Using Bitcoin

Much has been said about the buying and selling of Bitcoins, but how else can they be used? Here are some easy ways to use your Bitcoin:

  • To buy and sell goods and services from a growing number of websites, visit online retailers and brick and mortar business that accept bitcoin payments.
  • Trade with people from most countries around the world anytime, anywhere.
  • Send funds to friends or family in most countries in the world without incurring big fees or exchange rates.
  • For the bolder among us, you can speculate on Bitcoin prices

Create an Account

Creating an account with most exchanges and web wallets usually follows a similar process. For security reasons, you will need to verify your identity.

Gather your documents. You'll need ID, proof of residence and bank details.

Create an account with your chosen web wallet or exchange.

Scan & upload your documents. Use your phone if you don't have a scanner.

Get verified. This usually means waiting for a notification.

Add funds from your nominated bank account.

You're done. Go ahead and buy or sell bitcoins.

Buy Your First Bitcoin

Mt.Gox

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Mt.Gox

Mt Gox is the largest bitcoin exchange by trading volume. They accept a very wide range of currencies to buy bitcoin, so they are popular in many countries.
mtgox.com

mtgox.com

Coinbase

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Coinbase

Coinbase is a web wallet that offers a very simple and clean interface, making for an easy entry point to buying bitcoin. Currently they only accept US dollars.
coinbase.com

coinbase.com

BitStamp

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BitStamp

Bitstamp is a popular bitcoin exchange, with a clean interface, and a range of options to buy and sell bitcoin with various currencies.
bitstamp.net

bitstamp.net

Some popular places to use bitcoins include:

You can find a longer list of businesses that accept bitcoins here

For Merchants

    Get a Bitcoin wallet

  1. Get yourself a bitcoin wallet address where your customers can send their bitcoins. You can do this in several ways (see above for more). Once you have a wallet address, you're ready to accept bitcoin. If you want to exchange Bitcoins to currencies you will need to access an exchange and verify your identity.

  2. Display your wallet address

  3. Display your wallet address on your website or in your physical business. It might look something like this:

    31uEbMgunupShBVTewXjtqbBv5MndwfX

    You can choose to shorten it with a wallet address shortener to make it easier to type. Alternatively, you can generate & print a QR code that customers can scan with their mobiles to pay you.

  4. Display the Bitcoin logo

  5. Display a bitcoin logo on your website or next to your till to alert customers to your bitcoin service. Download a high resolution file below.

    To find services that can help you create and manage your Bitcoin wallet, visit our directory.

Bitcoin logo

Vector + PNG24 logo in a .zip file