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How to buy cryptocurrency in Hawaii
The Aloha State restricts crypto somewhat, but with plenty of exchanges to choose from.
Buying cryptocurrency is legal in Hawaii, though not every crypto exchange on the market is licensed to do business with Hawaiian residents.
In 2020, Hawaii’s Division of Financial Institutions launched a two-year pilot program called the Digital Currency Innovation Lab (DCIL) that allowed 16 crypto-based companies to do business with the state until June 2022 and has been extended until June 2024.
While you aren’t able to use certain major exchanges like Binance.US or Coinbase in Hawaii, you still have access to over a dozen licensed and regulated exchanges.
How to buy crypto in Hawaii through an exchange
Hawaii’s two-year pilot program approved 15 crypto-based businesses, of which five are true crypto exchanges you can use to buy, sell or trade crypto in the state.
Step 1: Compare and sign up with a crypto exchange
When comparing exchanges look at things like the number of coins supported, supported payment methods, and any extra features you might like to use, like an NFT marketplace or earning hub.
SoFi Invest Crypto
Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5 ★★★★★
Founded in 2011, this popular fintech offers multiple options for investing, including crypto. Lists 21 cryptocurrencies that include BTC, ETH, DOGE, LTC, SOL and ADA. No account minimum, and free financial counseling. Charges 1.25% markup on crypto transactions, supporting purchases of $10 to $50,000, with limits on select coins. You can't transfer crypto to external wallets or accounts.
Finder Rating: 4 / 5 ★★★★★
Crypto.com allows you to buy and sell over 270 cryptocurrencies with high liquidity.
And, the more you trade on Crypto.com, the lower your trading fees get.
Crypto.com's site features up-to-the-moment digital asset price information from CoinMarketCap — a market data website that reports price data for over 20,000 crypto assets.
Using this information, you can set up price alerts to help you time your trades and take advantage of market changes as they happen.
Crypto.com also supports earning for a wide range of altcoins.
Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange
Finder Rating: 5 / 5 ★★★★★
Kraken's mission is to educate the world about crypto.
Kraken provides in-depth and easy-to-follow resources for those who might be new to the crypto space.
Its website is filled with resources, like teaching you how to buy Bitcoin (BTC) or explaining the meanings behind common crypto jargon.
These educational tools coupled with the exchange's simple and intuitive user interface make Kraken an ideal place for those new to crypto.
CEX.IO Cryptocurrency Exchange
Marketplace founded in 2013, extending from London to the US in 2019. Cex.io allows you to fund an account with ACH, credit cards, wire deposits. It lists cryptocurrencies that include BTC, BCH, ETH and DOGE.
Bitstamp Cryptocurrency Exchange
Founded in 2011, Bitstamp was the first nationally licensed Bitcoin exchange in the world. It supports 45 cryptocurrencies that include BTC, ETH and LTC. It also allows for multiple deposit methods, but with trading, deposit and withdrawal fees that depend on the method. Accepts USD, EUR, GBP and CHF.
Uphold - Digital Asset Platform
Based in Silicon Valley and founded in 2013, boasts 7M+ users and serves 150+ countries. Trade between cryptocurrencies, precious metals and national currencies. Offers currencies that include BTC, BCH, ADA, ETH and DOGE. Supports account funding from banks, cards and other crypto wallets. Deposit fee only on bank transfer wires — $20 for deposits of up to $5,000.
Gemini Cryptocurrency Exchange
Finder Rating: 4 / 5 ★★★★★
Founded in 2014 and based in New York. Some coins include BTC, ETH, SUSHI and DOGE. Transaction fees depend on your transaction amount, starting at $0.99 for a transaction of up to $10. No deposit fees with crypto or wire transfers, though you'll pay 3.49% of your total purchase amount with a debit card transfer. Also created Gemini Dollar, the world's first regulated stablecoin.
Webull Cryptocurrency Exchange
Webull's holding company is Chinese, but it's a U.S. company that's registered in New York. Founded in 2017, Webull is an electronic trading platform to buy crypto and stocks, and uses Apex Crypto for crypto trading. It lists 11 cryptocurrencies to date, including the big ones such as BTC, BCH, LTC, ETH and SOL. However, there are no stablecoins. Webull doesn't have its own crypto wallet, so while you can buy and sell crypto using the platform, you can't transfer it out of the application. Webull's mobile app is available on Google Play and the Apple App Store, both stores citing mostly-positive reviews
Gemini Cryptocurrency Exchange
Finder Rating: 4 / 5 ★★★★★
Founded in 2014, Gemini lists more than 40 coins that include BTC, ETH, SUSHI and DOGE. Transaction fees depend on your transaction amount, starting at $0.99 for a transaction of up to $10. No deposit fees with crypto or wire transfers, though you'll pay 3.49% of your total purchase amount with a debit card transfer, according to Gemini. No account minimum.
2. Sign up using a government-issued ID
Once you’ve chosen an exchange, keep in mind that all licensed exchanges in New York are required to comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations.
These regulations require you to provide proof of a government-issued ID, your social security number and other important information to verify your identity when signing up for an account.
3. Buy your coins or tokens.
After you’ve created an account with an exchange, select and purchase the coins you want.
Once you’ve made a purchase, please understand that you technically do not have full ownership over the coins or tokens you’ve purchased yet. Instead, the exchange holds them on your behalf.
To have full ownership over your crypto assets, you must move them out of your exchange account into a non-custodial crypto wallet. This ensures you have total control over your funds and removes the risks associated with holding your coins on an exchange.
4. Get a non-custodial crypto wallet.
A non-custodial crypto wallet is a type of software or a combination of hardware and software that helps you to store the private keys to your crypto assets. You can think of private keys like the password to your crypto.
When you purchase a crypto asset from a centralized exchange like Coinbase, the private keys for your crypto asset are kept in a wallet on that exchange. This type of wallet is often referred to as a custodial wallet.
You don’t actually have control over the asset you’ve purchased until you move the asset into a non-custodial wallet.
As mentioned, non-custodial wallets include software and hardware wallets.
Software wallets remain connected to the internet at all times and are slightly less trustworthy than hardware wallets because of this.
These types of wallets include MetaMask, Exodus Wallet and Atomic Wallet.
Hardware wallets help you to store the private keys to your digital assets offline. See our review of the best crypto hardware wallets on the market to learn more.
For a more extensive overview of non-custodial wallets, see our overview of the best crypto wallets on the market today.
Keeping your crypto secure
All centralized exchanges, including , are vulnerable to counterparty risks like hacking, theft and insolvency. Using a self-custodial or hardware wallet is widely accepted as the best way to improve the security of your funds. We've shared some of our top picks below.
Ledger Nano X Wallet
Trezor Model T Wallet
Ledger Nano S Plus Wallet
See more of the best crypto wallets
Details about Hawaii crypto laws
Hawaii’s Digital Currency Innovation Lab (DCIL) began approving crypto businesses to operate in Hawaii in two stages, starting in 2020.
In the first round, from March to May 2020, the state approved 12 of the 19 companies that applied. The second round, from January to February 2021, 14 more companies applied and only 4 made the cut.
The popular exchange Robinhood was originally included for approval, though it was removed on January 13, 2021. Local media has speculated that the broker lost its license due to issues regarding compliance and reporting requirements.
DCIL has extended the ability of licensed and regulated crypto platforms to continue operating in Hawaii until 2024.
Hawaii cryptocurrency taxes
Hawaii doesn’t offer guidance on sales or state taxation on cryptocurrency transactions.
However, unlike fiat currency like US dollars, cryptocurrencies are considered property by the IRS. You’re required to follow the same tax rules as other property transactions, which means reporting capital gains or losses after:
- Exchanging fiat currency for crypto
- Exchanging crypto for fiat currency
- Receiving rewards such as cash back and bonuses in crypto
Luckily, investors can track, manage and calculate crypto taxes they owe with the use of crypto tax software, with some providing easy filing tools and forms generated by tax authorities.
Crypto coins in Hawaii
Because you have limited access to exchanges as a Hawaiian, you may not find a vendor for all 21,000+ coins and tokens on the market. But you will find over 100 crypto assets supported on exchanges like Kraken, Crypto.com and Gemini.
Can I buy Dogecoin in Hawaii?
Yes, DOGE is listed on a number of exchanges that are licensed and regulated in Hawaii. These exchanges include Gemini, Kraken and Uphold.
Can I buy Ethereum and Bitcoin in Hawaii?
Yes, every licensed exchange in Hawaii sells both BTC and ETH.
You can also find Bitcoin ATMs that allow you to buy Bitcoin with cash. Transactions can come with a 3% to 5% mark up.
Can I use Binance in Hawaii?
No, you can’t use Binance or Binance.US if you live in Hawaii.
The crypto exchange Binance isn’t legal in any of the US states, and its subsidiary Binance.US isn’t available in select states, including Hawaii.
Know before you buy crypto in Hawaii
Keep in mind that Hawaii’s Digital Currency Innovation Lab (DCIL) has only approved crypto platforms to operate in the state until 2024.
General things to note while buying and selling crypto include:
- Secure your wallet. A crypto wallet can be accessed if someone gets a hold of its keys and/or passphrases. Keep those details secure – preferably somewhere offline so to minimize risk of hacking.
- Read the fine print. Marketplaces and exchanges often aren’t liable if bad actors get access to your digital wallet or assets. Learn about the security measures in place to prevent access to your money.
- Watch out for scams. Unfortunately, scams seem to exist in every industry and crypto is no exception. Phishing scams are common, typically involving a scammer pretending to be a support rep and asking a user for passcodes/keys to their account. Contact customer support if you think something suspicious is going on.
- Cryptocurrency is volatile. The value of any coin can change in a matter of seconds, spelling major losses or gains that depend on interest and how much you invest.
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