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With Bitcoin reaching new all-time-highs in 2021, many buyers are looking to enter the market for the first time. We’ve put together this simple guide to help you do so safely and securely.
The easiest way to buy Bitcoin is from a cryptocurrency exchange. Comparing in the table below lets you find one with the features you want such as low fees, ease of use or 24-hour customer support.
To create an account on an exchange you will need to verify your email address and identity. Have some photo ID and your phone ready.
Once verified, you can deposit INR using the payment method that best suits you – bank transfer, UPI, IMPS, NEFT, RTGS, debit cards and credit cards are all widely accepted.
You can now exchange your funds for Bitcoin. On easier-to-use exchanges, this is as easy as entering the amount you want to purchase and clicking “buy.” If you like you can now withdraw your Bitcoin to your personal wallet.
This is our quick guide to just one way to buy BTC. Compare some other options in the table below.
You can buy Bitcoin in India in two simple steps:
The first step, if you’ve decided that buying Bitcoin is right for you, is to decide how and where you’ll make the purchase. There are hundreds of platforms to choose from, but they can be separated into three main categories:
Bitcoin brokers are retailers that sell Bitcoin and other digital currencies. They offer user-friendly platforms and are the quickest and easiest way to buy Bitcoin. Brokers let you pay with fiat currencies (like INR or USD) using familiar payment methods like a debit card or a bank transfer. Their main downside is that they often charge higher fees than other options. Coinmama is an example of a well-known cryptocurrency brokers.
Cryptocurrency trading platforms
These platforms, such as WazirX and CoinDCX, let you buy Bitcoin from other traders on the open market. Some exchanges let you buy with fiat currency, while others are for trading cryptocurrencies only and don’t accept fiat deposits. They tend to offer lower fees and better rates than brokers, provide access to a more diverse range of coins and can also be used to actively trade cryptocurrencies. However, they’re more complicated to use and require some basic familiarity with trading concepts, like the difference between limit and market orders.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) exchanges
Peer-to-peer exchanges are like noticeboards where people can post notices saying whether they’re buying or selling Bitcoin, and what their price is. Buyers and sellers on peer-to-peer exchanges directly contact each other and make their own arrangements. This makes it possible to access a wider range of payment methods, such as cash, and trade with increased privacy. The downsides are that prices on peer-to-peer exchanges are often higher than the market exchange rate, and users need to be wary of scammers on these platforms. WazirX has a peer-to-peer exchange section in addition to its trading platform.
In most cases, the first step after choosing an exchange is to create an account by providing your email address. Depending on the exchange you use and the regulatory requirements it is subject to, you may also be required to provide your full name, contact information and proof of ID before being allowed to trade.
Once your account has been verified, you can make your purchase and pay for it. This looks different depending on whether you’re using a broker, a trading platform or a peer-to-peer exchange.
When using a broker
Simply enter the amount of Bitcoin you want to buy, and the broker’s website tells you how much it costs and what the available payment options are. Once you make your payment, the broker sends the Bitcoin to your account. From there, you can withdraw the Bitcoin to your personal wallet or send it anywhere else you want.
When using a trading platform
First, you need to deposit funds into your account. Once you’ve made the deposit, go to the market for the currency pair you want to trade. For example, if you want to buy Bitcoin with Indian rupees, you’d go to the BTC/INR section of the exchange website. To buy Bitcoin in that market, place a buy order. There are different order types, but if you simply want to buy at current market prices, you can place a market order.
When using a peer-to-peer exchange
Browse sell offers to find one with an acceptable price and a suitable payment method. Ideally, the seller will also have a good reputation score, and their notice won’t raise any red flags. Contact the seller, tell them you want to buy Bitcoin and make a deal. Peer-to-peer exchanges usually use escrow services to protect buyers and sellers, but you should still be wary of scammers when using them.
After buying Bitcoin, it usually gets sent to your account on the exchange. While some people keep their Bitcoin in exchange accounts indefinitely, it’s not the safest option. If the exchange goes out of business, gets hacked or if you somehow lose access to your exchange account, you could lose your Bitcoin.
That’s why it’s usually safer to store Bitcoin in a personal wallet.
To do this, you first need to create a personal Bitcoin wallet address. Then you can send Bitcoin from your exchange account to that personal wallet address.
Read the cryptocurrency wallets guide to learn how to create a personal Bitcoin wallet address, and what the types of wallet are.
Not all exchanges accept all payment methods, so if you have a specific payment method in mind, it can be helpful to specifically look for an exchange that accepts it.
Different payment methods have their own pros and cons.
Many Indian cryptocurrency exchanges will accept bank transfers from linked bank accounts and related payment methods such as NEFT and IMPS. These transfers are often fast and inexpensive, so they can be an excellent choice where available. Indian exchanges that accept these options include Bitbns, WazirX, CoinDCX and more.
When using an overseas cryptocurrency exchange, you may see bank transfer payment options referred to as wire transfer or SWIFT payment. These payments will usually be much slower (they can take up to a week) and will attract significantly higher fees than domestic bank transfers, including currency exchange fees. If you want to use a specific overseas exchange, it may be preferable to buy cryptocurrency domestically with local currency and then deposit cryptocurrency onto the exchange instead.
Many Bitcoin brokers let you buy Bitcoin using your debit or credit card, including platforms like Coinmama, and using your card allows you to make quick and convenient purchases. Trading platforms such as Binance have also started letting customers directly buy cryptocurrency with a credit card via third-party payment integrations.
However, in all cases, credit card transactions attract relatively high fees. On top of that, they can also incur cash advance fees and payments to foreign cryptocurrency exchanges may also involve currency exchange fees, so this could be an expensive option if you’re not careful.
Credit cards aren’t typically accepted on peer-to-peer exchanges due to the risk of chargeback fraud.
The most direct way of buying Bitcoin with cash in India is to use a peer-to-peer platform, such as Paxful, and to see if you can arrange an in-person cash purchase with someone in your local area. Most sellers on peer to peer platforms prefer not to use cash though.
It may also be possible to find a Bitcoin ATM near you. Exchanges such as Unocoin have experimented with installing Bitcoin ATMs in India, but they remain rare.
Buying Bitcoin with cash can be as quick and convenient as other payment methods, but it also tends to be among the most expensive payment methods and it can sometimes be difficult to find sellers.
PayPal is rarely accepted by cryptocurrency exchanges or other sellers, given the risk of chargeback fraud. This is when someone buys Bitcoin, but then requests PayPal reverse their transaction after they get the Bitcoin, so they get their money back and get to keep the Bitcoin.
If you’ve got your heart set on buying Bitcoin with PayPal, there are still some options though.
It’s unlikely, but not impossible, to find sellers accepting PayPal on peer-to-peer exchanges like Paxful. And if you’re more interested in Bitcoin’s price action than the underlying asset, you can also fund an eToro account with PayPal.
A potentially riskier third option is a relatively obscure peer to peer platform called xCoins, which was specifically designed to facilitate PayPal for Bitcoin transactions. It’s a little vague on how it works though and doesn’t have the best security track record.
If you just want to draw down on your PayPal balance, you can also link your PayPal account to a credit card and then buy Bitcoin with that credit card.
Using PayPal can incur additional fees, and it can be difficult to find exchanges that allow it. But if you really want to use it, there are still a number of options.
It’s easy to swap other cryptocurrencies for Bitcoin, since BTC is listed on almost all crypto exchanges with a huge range of trading pairs.
You’ll need to search for exchanges that list your desired trading pair. For example, if you want to trade Ether for Bitcoin, you’d look for an exchange with a BTC/ETH pair. Once you’ve found a suitable exchange, you can buy Bitcoin by following a few simple steps.
Simply create an account, and deposit the cryptocurrency (such as ETH) into your exchange wallet. Then go to the market (such as BTC/ETH) and look for where it says “Buy BTC” or “Sell ETH” as the case may be.
Enter the amount you want to buy or sell and create a new order. If you want to aim for a specific exchange rate, you can create a limit order which may be executed when the market shifts enough that it’s a good offer. If you just want to swap at current market prices, you can create a market order.
As a rule of thumb, cryptocurrency exchanges will always verify your identity if you are exchanging between fiat currency and cryptocurrency. As such, one of the most reliable ways of buying Bitcoin anonymously is by paying with another cryptocurrency on an exchange that doesn’t require user verification. But this isn’t much help if you’re trying to convert fiat currency to cryptocurrency.
In that case, the most reliably anonymous way of buying Bitcoin is to pay with cash or another untraceable payment method, such as prepaid gift cards, on a peer-to-peer exchange.
Other methods, even if they don’t involve identity verification, are only partially anonymous. For example, while Bitcoin ATMs have different compliance requirements in different countries, they will often photograph their users or require them to present ID to a camera in the machine.
And while you can use exchanges such as Changelly to buy cryptocurrency with a credit card, without going through a formal identity verification process on the exchange, these purchases aren’t anonymous. They typically require a 3D Secure card, which means buyers are still being identified.
With hundreds of platforms to choose from, finding the best Bitcoin exchange for your needs is a challenging task. To make your choice easier, consider these key factors when comparing exchanges:
There’s plenty of choice when selecting a Bitcoin exchange, and Indian users can choose from platforms based here at home or in countries all around the world. So, should you buy Bitcoin from an Indian exchange or from a foreign platform? To help you decide, consider the pros and cons of buying on a local exchange.
Regardless of whether you choose an Indian or overseas-based crypto exchange, make sure you compare a range of options before deciding which platform to use.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency has always been legal in India, although certain regulations have made it difficult to access. These difficulties created the common misconception that Bitcoin is not legal in India.
In 2018 cryptocurrency exchanges were banned from using Indian banking services. This made it difficult for exchanges to operate and prevented people from easily buying Bitcoin with Indian rupees, but it was not technically a cryptocurrency ban.
This ban was lifted in 2020, making it much easier to buy and sell Bitcoin in India.
You wouldn’t invest in shares without doing your research first, so make sure you understand the following essential facts about Bitcoin before you buy:
Finally, it’s also worth remembering that Bitcoin is far from the only fish in the cryptocurrency sea. While it may be the biggest and best-known, there are more than 4,000 other cryptocurrencies available as of February 2021 (and growing). While the value of some of these coins is questionable, there are plenty of other digital currencies worth considering as alternatives to Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is the world’s oldest and biggest digital currency by market cap. Created in 2009 by an unknown person (or persons) using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is a form of decentralised electronic cash designed to provide a viable alternative to traditional fiat currency.
Rather than having to deal with a centralised authority such as a bank to process transactions, Bitcoin holders can transfer their coins directly to one another on a peer-to-peer network. All Bitcoin transactions are tracked on a public ledger known as the blockchain, and people working as miners verify transactions and update the blockchain.
The maximum coin supply of Bitcoin is limited to 21 million, but it’s possible to buy a small fraction of a coin – each individual coin can be divided down to 0.00000001 BTC. Find out more about how Bitcoin works in our comprehensive beginner’s guide.
Want to get your hands on some Bitcoin without actually buying it? There are a few options available:
If you want to buy a large amount of Bitcoin, for example US$50,000 or more, you may want to think twice before placing your trade on a traditional exchange. Not only will you be exposed to slippage, which can substantially increase the cost of your trade, but you’ll also need to accept the risks of hacking and theft associated with traditional exchanges.
Over-the-counter (OTC) brokers can offer better prices, increased transaction limits and faster processing times to large-volume traders. Check out our OTC cryptocurrency trading guide to find out how buying OTC works as well as the benefits and risks you should be aware of.
If you want to buy Bitcoin, start comparing a range of cryptocurrency brokers and exchanges. Look at their features, fees, security and overall reputation to decide which platform is the right fit for you.
You can then sign up for an account and get ready to start trading. However, make sure you research your purchase thoroughly and are fully aware of the risks involved before you buy.
Icons made by various artists on www.flaticon.com
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds BTC, BNB.
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