This guide is intended to be simple and is only concerned with getting someone initially set up for using Bitcoin. With that in mind, there will be no justification of recommendations or education on the intricacies of Bitcoin. All recommendations have been astutely considered using various metrics and keeping in mind a Bitcoin beginner who simply wants to get set up quickly, simply, and start using Bitcoins.
Getting started with Bitcoin is quite easy, although learning the subtleties of it and security-conscious best practices will require time and effort, which one can do over time on one's own. Not much different than when a young adult first opens a bank account — The initial process is relatively simple, but it takes a while for the person to learn all the intricacies of banking and commerce.
Getting Started Bullet Points
- Open a Coinbase account.
- Link bank account.
- Exchange local currency to Bitcoins.
- Begin sending/receiving Bitcoins.
Getting Started Elaborated
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, but a currency nonetheless. Therefore, one will need to exchange one currency for another to initially acquire it. Not unlike exchanging one's local currency, such as British Pounds, into U.S. Dollars when traveling to America. For this purpose, there are banks that offer the service, and there are exchange banks specializing in such transactions. Therefore, one will need to open an account with an exchange bank that specializes in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. For this purpose, Coinbase is recommended. As the funding source for exchanging one's local currency into Bitcoin will be one's banking account or credit/debit card, the account will need to be created with one's legal identity. After creating an account, one will need to link one's bank/card to one's account, which will require a few simple steps for verification of one's identity.
Coinbase is both an exchange and an online Bitcoin wallet. Bitcoins are sent and received with a lengthy alphanumeric string of characters known as a sending address or a receiving address. There will be one generated for each sending (of Bitcoins) transaction one does and one generated for each receiving transaction one does. Although Bitcoin is designed with transparency, simplistically speaking, these addresses do not contain any personally identifying information. Therefore, even though one's Coinbase account is linked to one's legal identify for traditional banking purposes, the sending/receiving addresses for Bitcoin cannot be personally tied to one’s identity by the average person, unless one were to publicize one's Bitcoin address along with one's legal identity. These addresses are obviously public and can be given out to the person with whom one is transacting. However, there are private addresses associated with Bitcoin wallets, which will usually require a bit of searching through menus and settings to discover. These private addresses should never be given out to anyone.
Coinbase, though as secure as any other banking institution, and the Bitcoin core being impervious to hacking, it is not recommended to keep any large amounts of local currency or Bitcoins stored in Coinbase, or any other exchange or online wallet, for any significant length of time. It should only be used for the purposes of exchanging local currency into Bitcoins or Bitcoins into one's local currency for the purposes of then transferring to one's bank account. For long term storage or use of Bitcoins, it is recommended using the Electrum Bitcoin wallet. When creating the wallet, it is recommended setting it up as SegWit after initially choosing to create a standard wallet.
Hopefully this information has enabled those interested in delving into Bitcoins to easily get set up and using Bitcoins. As the embedded message says in the very first Bitcoin transaction by its creator Satoshi Nakamoto, "The Times 3 January 2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks." Implying that it is high time the people of the world have a means of currency that is not at the mercy of incompetent governments and politicians or banking institutions with their discriminatory practices, such as refusing to do business with the marijuana or adult industries. It was a major factor in the ability of WikiLeaks to continue operating after the financial assault by governments on the banking institutions for WikiLeaks, as it has liberated many others, for good or for bad. The use of Bitcoins is one small way each person can take back control of one’s life. "Bitcoin is the currency of resistance." (attributed to Max Keiser) Stick it to the man!