Getting Started With Bitcoin

If you’ve arrived here you are probably completely new to Bitcoin and you want to know how to get started, FAST.  Bitcoin has been popping up in the news almost every day recently, so you are probably keen to at least dip your toe in the water to find out what is involved.

Before you start, you will need a Bitcoin wallet.

If you want to run a fully featured Bitcoin client on your own computer or laptop there is Bitcoin Core.  This is great, but can take a VERY long time to install for the first time, as the entire Blockchain will need to synchronize when you first run it.  Don’t worry though, there are much simpler, quicker ways to get started nowadays.

Electrum offer a simple wallet that works on most devices.  It’s quick to set-up (just be sure to make a very careful note of the recovery phrase it gives you when setting up, because without that you will be unable to recover your bitcoins if anything goes wrong!)

Airbitz is another excellent wallet, and is ideal for beginners. Again follow the setup instructions exactly to ensure that you are able to recover your bitcoins should things go wrong later.

You can find more wallet options here.

There is a wealth of information on the Bitcoin Core website – this is the website that is regarded as the main Bitcoin website by the vast majority of the Bitcoin community and is where you will find the original Bitcoin Whitepaper as written by the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto.  There are other sites that purport to be THE Bitcoin site, even to the extent of using similar graphics and logos, but be very careful as some of these official looking sites are in my opinion run by charlatans seeking to either damage the Bitcoin brand or try and control it for their own greed.

So, how do you get your first Bitcoin?

You may have heard about Bitcoin mining, but nowadays, realistically, that’s not an option for most people, unless you want to spend thousands of pounds investing in computer hardware capable of carrying out this task.  Most people getting involved with Bitcoin do so by purchasing a Bitcoin from somebody else who has already done all the hard work.

There are several ways of obtaining Bitcoins but my favourite at the moment is a website called BitBargain.  This is ideal for people living in the UK.  You can also find local people who will sell you some bitcoin at LocalBitcoins.  There are also a whole host of other online exchanges where you can buy and sell bitcoins such as those listed here.

The process is as follows:

Sign-up for a BitBargain account (which is free)
Complete the verification process (which involves uploading a scan of a Photo ID, a utility bill and a photo of you)
Click on the Buy BTC link at the top of the page.
Choose a Bitcoin seller who’s online and has a reputation you trust (each seller is given a ranking based on previous transactions)

Then you just follow the instructions on-screen, and make a bank-transfer direct to the seller.  A timer allows 3 hours for this transaction to complete, it usually occurs within minutes though.  When the seller receives your payment, the agreed quantity of Bitcoins are transferred by Bitbargain (who acts as the middle-man, and holds the Bitcoins until the transaction is successful) to your wallet area.  You can then immediately send your newly aquired BTC to your own Bitcoin address.

Be especially careful to enter your own Bitcoin address EXACTLY as there are no second chances.

And there you have it, as soon as you’ve done that, check your own Bitcoin wallet and within a few seconds or minutes you’ll see the total updated with the amount you just purchased.

And that’s it.  Easy!