- Bitcoins, What Are They?
- Bitcoin vs other means of exchange
- How to use Bitcoin
- Buying Bitcoins
- Selling Bitcoins
- Bitcoins ATMs & Debit Cards
- Appx. 1 – A History of Cryptocurrency
- Appx. 2 – Bitcoin Legality & Regulations
Bitcoins ATMs & Debit Cards
7.1. Bitcoin ATMs
Much like a normal ATM, a Bitcoin ATM is a stand-alone machine connected to the internet that allows people to deposit cash to buy Bitcoin and in some cases, approximately 40% of the machines, will allow you to redeem Bitcoin for cash.
Buying Bitcoin from a Bitcoin ATM involves a number of steps. First you have to find one! Bitcoin ATMs are located in over 55 countries around the world, with Coin ATM Radar being the most popular website for locating a Bitcoin ATM near you.
Step two is the verification process, which can vary widely depending on the ATM’s producer. Once you’ve found a Bitcoin ATM, select your language and then pick the buy or sell options. Usually, you will be asked to select an amount of Bitcoin to buy or sell. Some machines will then ask you to enter your mobile number to receive a code that needs to be entered into the machine. In some cases, you may be required to scan an ID document, especially for large transactions.
To buy: Select whether you have a Bitcoin wallet, if you don’t, the ATM can generate and print a new one. Scan the QR code, insert cash, click send and get a receipt or enter your email to get verification of the transaction.
To Sell: Enter the amount you want to get in cash, get a QR code where the Bitcoins are to be sent, use your wallet to send the Bitcoin, take your cash (usually for small amounts). For larger amounts (and again this varies by ATM operator) you will get a receipt with a printed code and will need to wait for 1 or 2 confirmations. This can take some time, so you usually have to come back later and scan the code from your receipt and take your cash. Go have a coffee or take a walk around the shopping center while you wait.
7.2. Bitcoin Debit cards
Bitcoin debit cards fuse the world of real finance with cryptocurrency and, while making it easier than ever to buy Bitcoin and spend them at any merchant that accepts plastic, still, they can be a little quirky.
Most cards come with a wallet to store your Bitcoin, access to a small range of different currencies, require a minimum amount of personal information to receive (with the exception of BitPlastic, which does not require an ID and actually encourages you to use a TOR email and fake name to start – more on that below) and can be purchased for a fee.
Many, if not now most, are connected to Visa and can be used anywhere in the world that accepts Visa, including ATM machines. Transaction fees do apply, however, and these vary whether you are engaging in a domestic or foreign transaction and/or using the currency the card is denominated in, or a foreign currency.
Launched in 2013, BitPlastic was the first card on the market and has a rather high issue fee as a result (0.2 to 0.4 BTC, or roughly $2956 at today’s exchange rate in early January 2018, which acts as a deposit and is refunded once $3500 worth of transactions are processed through the card). True to Bitcoin’s early ideas, it provides a very high degree of privacy in terms of anonymity, requiring no identification to get. In fact, they are so privacy obsessed they even encourage card users to register with an anonymous TOR email and use a fake name. Your name (even if fake) doesn’t appear on the card, which can present a problem as some vendors and online services refuse to take a nameless card, but you can take money out of ATMs anonymously, which privacy aficionados love. The other downside is that if you lose your card, that’s it, your Bitcoin are gone forever. On top of that, the momentum gained by being first to market seems to be waning, with many in the Bitcoin community slightly critical of BitPlastic for its lack of innovation in these rapidly changing times.
Due to regulatory hurdles, it is advisable to look into where, exactly, certain debit cards are available.
Xapo, one of the most popular cards, for example, is currently not available in the U.S. as well as 121 other countries. Conversely, Shift Card, offered by Coinbase, is another popular card that has encountered regulatory obstacles and is currently only available in the U.S. and limited to 41 U.S. states.
Here’s an overview of the most popular Bitcoin debit cards*:
*(Please note rates are subject to change)
7.3. So, what about online gambling with Bitcoin?
Now we get to the good stuff. The use of Bitcoin in gambling is growing, not only because it’s fast and easy to use, but also because it allows players to gamble in online casinos legally in countries like the United States, where gambling laws are strict and vary by state.
Currently, there are laws preventing U.S. banks from processing payments related to online gambling. However, since Bitcoin is decentralized and not controlled by any American banks, players using the cryptocurrency can collect payments in Bitcoin with no worries.
However, online Bitcoin casinos still face obstacles. Security is still a big issue, and, like any online business, if a Bitcoin casino is hacked, your account password – and your coins – could be stolen. And since the coins aren’t insured, you can bet that if your money is stolen, you won’t get any of it back.
Overall, it’s up to you to decide whether Bitcoin is a risk worth taking. After all, life’s a gamble!