It is possible to buy or sell Bitcoins in a direct Bitcoin transaction with an interested party, through Bitcoin ATMs, or by using digital currency exchange services – specialized online platforms that are often called exchanges even though they have no official exchange licenses. Bitcoins can be traded for other assets, including national currencies. As a rule, a commission is charged for operations.

Storage

To buy Bitcoins, one needs to have a Bitcoin wallet. Wallets are specialized pieces of hardware or software that allow to store BTC, receive and initiate Bitcoin transactions.

Exchanges

Arguably the most popular way of buying and selling bitcoins is through specialized cryptocurrency exchange platforms. Before being able to perform a transaction, funds need to be allocated, or deposited, to the exchange. After allocating funds, a buying or selling order can be created that will allow to buy or sell BTC. Purchased coins are then temporarily stored on the exchange from where they can be withdrawn back to a personal wallet.

Different exchanges may have different rates and support various currency pairs. The rate is formed purely by the demand.

Where to buy Bitcoin

List of Bitcoin exchanges:

Safety concerns

Exchange websites are regularly being hacked, showing potential technical and legal insecurity to cryptocurrency theft.

Attacks on Mt.Gox exchange that first started in 2011, when 2609 Bitcoins were withdrawn, are considered among the most vicious. The exact extent of the break-in was revealed only in 2014: within three years, approximately 850,000 Bitcoins were stolen from Mt.Gox which accounted for about 70% of all Bitcoin trades.