Bitcoin is a digital currency. The bitcoin network is not backed by any single bank or authority and it’s fully decentralized. It can be used worldwide by anyone with a computer or smartphone and Internet access. Also, bitcoins are the first example of a cryptocurrency, a well-known growing new category of money. There are a plenty of good articles you might want to read before starting with Bitcoin. Bellow you can find a link to an excellent one.
It will answer to most of the questions related to bitcoin network and the information is updated on a regular basis.
Probably you’ve heard that all Bitcoin transactions are public and Tradeblock.com is the best place to “watch” them. Also buying bitcoins from an exchange might involve an account verification/activation (SMS, e-mail or credit card/bank statement). So how can it be anonymous? Assuming you bought some coins from an exchange and confirmed the transaction with your personal phone number. On the other hand, you don’t need to verify your email address, confirm your phone number or identity for creating and using a bitcoin wallet. Next, you can create a new wallet and transfer your funds there. You can transfer the funds in a single transaction, you can do it in multiple transactions and using different receiving addresses. Actually the most private way for Bitcoin payments is to never re-use and address. Maybe you might want to transfer the funds from the exchange to multiple wallets and finally to your personal wallet. The bitcoin fees are extremely low, so it’s really your personal decision how private it should be.
Are you concerned that some Bitcoin wallets are keeping activity logs and your IP might me revealed? A VPN solution could help you to keep your IP safe.
NOTE: Usually Tor is not recommended for Bitcoin payments especially for not tech savvy users. A malicious Tor exit node intercepts the traffic between your computer and your online wallet and you could lose all your bitcoins irreversible.
Identical to printed money, bitcoins are stored in a wallet. There are a few types of wallets designed for bitcoins, from the online wallets, standalone Bitcoin clients for desktop and mobile to hardware ones, which are one only purpose devices: for storing and managing your Bitcoin funds and transactions. A handy guide how to choose your wallet with full description is available at:
The best way to store your Bitcoins is a wallet on your computer or mobile phone as you’ll get a full control over your Bitcoins. Noticeable examples of standalone (desktop) clients are Electrum and Multibit. Just remember, there are two types of desktop clients, with full validation and simplified one. Full validation requires to download all the “block chain” on your computer, which is very large database (60 GB and growing every 10 minutes) that contains all the transactions ever made using Bitcoin. Full validation in theory provides an extra layer of security and allow merchants to avoid “double spends”. As a normal user, simplified validation works just fine and there is no reason to maintain a complete copy of all ever maid transactions. You are only interested in a small part of the block chain that contains your transactions and it is about 25-30 MB. Online wallets a very popular nowadays as they are easy and quite fast to set-up, don’t require any free space on your HDD and are just convenient, especially when we are talking about relatively small transactions or occasional ones e.g. when you want to transfer you bitcoins from a Bitcoin Exchange to your personal wallet.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: We strongly recommend using online wallets only if you are totally new to Bitcoin and/or you intend to use bitcoins for occasional, relatively small payments, without keeping to much of your own funds in bitcoins.
GreenAddress.it is an excellent mobile platform wallet for Android (GooglePlay) and iOS (AppStore). In addition you can use it directly from your browser if needed. The two-factor authentication is always required which adds some extra bonuses to your wallet’s security.
Step 1 of 4: Write down or print your mnemonic passphrase. This is your login. Don’t worry, you will need it occasionally, there is a fast login option with a PIN number. Be aware: if you lost it you can’t recover it. Keep it safe.
Step 2 of 4: Set-up your two-factor authentication. You have plenty of choices, but we would recommend Google Authenticator for iOS and Android or Microsoft Authenticator for Windows Phone users.
Step 3 of 4: Set-up your PIN number and you will be able to fast login to your wallet.
Step 4 of 4: Click Take me to my wallet! button and you are done. You also can set-up a watch-only, additional account for your wallet. This will let you to check your account from any other computer without any risk to compromise it as transactions from this type of accounts are forbidden as well as any other changes. Don’t forget to verify your mnemonic passphrase, you’ll see a notification in your wallet.
NOTE: Installing a desktop Bitcoin client is similar to any programs you had installed on your computer and it doesn’t require any additional knowledge.
The fastest way to get bitcoins is to find a Bitcoin Exchange or a Bitcoin ATM. Just take a look at the links bellow:
IMPORTANT NOTICE: To secure your Bitcoin Exchange account from unauthorized access, please don’t forget to enable two-factor authentication and stay away from exchanges that don’t provide this feature.
Below is a video tutorial prepared by LocalBitcoins.com. Other exchanges will provide you a similar experience, meanwhile at LocalBitcoins you can buy bitcoins with cash, bank transfers, PayPal and other various payment methods.
Bitcoin uses payment addresses for sending and receiving funds. At this point it’s really similar to PayPal, which uses an email address. A Bitcoin address looks like this:
You don’t have to remember it or keep it safe, you can have an unlimited number of payments addresses for your wallet. Try to follow a simple rule: one payment, one address. Every time when you’ll hit the Receive button in your wallet, a new receiving address will be generated, or you’ll find there an option to generate them manually. The screenshots bellow will make the things easier.
This is how it looks the desktop client MultiBit. Hit the Send/Request button before starting a transaction.
The Request payment section will generate a receiving address for you. Copy it to clipboard and use it when you want to get your bitcoins. E.g. when you are transferring your funds from a Bitcoin exchange
For sending money just use the Send payment option. Insert the receiving address where you want to transfer the bitcoins hit the next button and you are done. As simple as that!
NOTE: Online wallets or mobile applications might ask for your wallet password or two-factor authorization code if you are trying to send some bitcoins. If you have your Google Authenticator app enabled, just open it on your smartphone and insert the provided code. Else you can receive this code by SMS, Email, Phone call – it depends on your wallet’s settings.
QR codes are here to simplify Bitcoin transactions. It’s extremely convenient if you are using a wallet on your mobile phone. Just open your wallet and scan that image in order to complete a payment. Else you can scan that image with a simple QR-scanner on your smartphone and you will be able to read the payment address and the BTC amount if it is specified, save it or send it to somebody else.
Some desktop clients have the option to insert a QR-code when you are sending some funds. Just save the QR code image and insert. The Bitcoin client will read it and add the address automatically.
Furthermore, you’ll find in your wallet a Show/Generate QR code for a payment address. Save that image and use it at your convenience when you need to receive some bitcoins.
Long story short – all Bitcoin wallets provide a similar user’s experience. There is a SEND button to make payments and a RECEIVE one to get them. You’ll need a payment address and an amount to be transferred. An exchange is a good place to get some coins. The fees are ridiculous low and Bitcoin has a higher anonymity level than other online payment methods. It’s somewhere near to cash payments.
You should always consider to check the Bitcoin official rates, though Exchanges usually have their own rate.