Where to buy and sell Bitcoin
The popularity of Bitcoin as a valid currency and payment method has grown beyond most consumer's expectations. Since its invention in 2008, over 12 million bitcoins have been created and put into circulation and they are currently valued at $298 USD per bitcoin. Bitcoin transactions average between 75,000 and 100,000 transactions per day which is almost a 100% increase over the past year.
Bitcoin may still have some volatility as far as the market is concerned, and there are certainly kinks that are still being worked out as the system matures, but it is probably pretty safe to say that Bitcoin is here to stay. It has paved the way for virtual cryptocurrency and several other brands have now entered the market place, bouncing off of Bitcoin's success and overall model. At this point, Bitcoin is starting to be utilized more and more by average consumers and by more and larger merchants who are accepting Bitcoin as payment for their goods and services. Where it was once solidly in the realm of the digital super users, the concept is traveling into the mainstream slowly but surely.
So what is a consumer to do when it comes to getting skin in the game? Well, if they are not going to become a bitcoin miner so they can use their computing power to create bitcoin and get the rewards, the best thing to do is trade cash currency for bitcoins and start stuffing your virtual wallet. If you are ready to jump into the deep end, you need to know some of the best places to do your buying, selling and trading. There are probably six or seven bitcoin exchange sites that will show up on nearly every list of best or most trusted Bitcoin trading sites where you can get down to business.
Everyone agrees that one of the top exchanges for Bitcoin is Coinbase. Launched in 2012 and based in San Francisco, CA, it has become the leader by offering more services in one place than other sites that operate strictly as trading exchanges. Coinbase actually provides the ability for customers to buy and sell, store and send, trade and receive Bitcoins.
Offering wallet software for consumers as well as merchant services that allows payment processing capability for business who want to accept Bitcoin as tender, Coinbase has set itself apart with its broad and varied range of products and services. This easy to use service now has over 1 million wallets created by consumers. In addition to these products and services, Coinbase has made significant efforts to secure their site and operations to protect their customers and transaction exchange which goes a long way in contributing to their high ratings
One of the up-and-comers in the Bitcoin exchange gamut is Bitsource. It is a very new site, but it offers several incentives for customers that they will not see with other exchanges. The most outstanding of these factors is the ability to purchase bitcoin from Bitsource using Visa and Mastercard credit card transactions. While most exchanges require links to deposit bank accounts for funding, and must take time with setting up this process to allow for AML "know-your-customer" regulations, the ability for a customer to pay with their credit card means the funding process is quick and easy. Withdrawals also become just as easy and seamless. Keeping safety and security at the top of their priority list, Bitsource keeps about 98% of their balance in physical funds and/or "cold wallets", all of which is offline, in order to best avoid hacking theft. Their 24/7 customer service support is just one more outstanding experience they offer their customers and something that sets them apart from the pack
A well-known and well-established exchange that gets a high rating is BTC-e. Launched in 2011 and based in Bulgaria, BTC-e offers trading in USD, EURO, and Russian rubles for physical funds vs. Bitcoins, and is one of the few sites that offers multiple interfaces to support different languages (English and Russian). BTC-e offers trading with other cryptocurrencies as well such as Lite coin and Namecoin. BTC-e owns a rather large piece of the Bitcoin market share and is extremely popular, however it is notable that there is not as much transparency with this site as the other high-rated sites, and that lends a certain instability factor.
Rounding out our list are Kraken and Cryptsy. With Kraken, you get an exchange that accepts deposits for trading in USD and EURO and is geared more toward a more professional investors set of traders. While it is well-regarded and sophisticated, it has not yet gained the popularity of some of the other exchange sites. However, it is strategically positioned for exception growth and it has invested a lot of effort in its security and has easily passed a significantly rigorous audit process just recently. Cryptsy is quite a bit different from the other exchanges in that its main aim is to offer trading between cryptocurrencies - over 100 are supported currently. Based in Florida, it is one of the most recent launches getting its start in 2013. Cryptsy is planning to have other services offered in the future including a USD exchange, however it will continue to excel in the realm of cryptocurrency to cryptocurrency trading.
Since Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are likely to be with us as we go into our financial futures, it is great to see the variety and diversity of exchange sites that are growing the medium and fostering a viable industry for years to come.