Alternate Ways to Buy Bitcoin
Bitcoin ATMs act like in-person bitcoin exchanges. Individuals can insert cash into a machine and use it to purchase bitcoin that is then transferred to online wallets for users. Bitcoin ATMs have become increasingly popular in recent years—even retail giant Walmart Inc. (WMT) has begun a pilot test to offer the option of purchasing bitcoin to its customers. Coin ATM Radar can help to track down the closest machines.
However, ATMs are an expensive option to purchase cryptocurrency. There are two charges associated with a bitcoin purchase at an ATM: a purchase fee and a conversion fee from a fiat currency to bitcoin. Both fees are fairly steep as compared to other options. For example, the worldwide average purchase fee at Bitcoin ATMs is 8.4% (of the purchase amount) and 5.4% for sales at ATMs
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Unlike decentralized exchanges, which match buyers and sellers anonymously and facilitate all aspects of the transaction, there are some peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange services that provide a more direct connection between users. LocalBitcoins is an example of such an exchange. After creating an account, users can post requests to buy or sell bitcoin, including information about payment methods and price. Users then browse through listings of buy and sell offers, choosing those trade partners with whom they wish to transact.
LocalBitcoins facilitates some of the aspects of the trade. Although P2P exchanges do not offer the same anonymity as decentralized exchanges, they allow users the opportunity to shop around for the best deal. Many of these exchanges also provide rating systems so that users have a way to evaluate potential trade partners before transacting.
Very few mainstream brokerages offer bitcoin purchase and trading capabilities due to the uncertainty surrounding the regulatory status of cryptocurrencies. Robinhood Markets, Inc. (HOOD), an app popular with retail investors, is one exchange that offers crypto trading facilities. It charges zero percent commission for cryptocurrency trades and purchases and makes money from payment for order flow, passing on its trading volume to other trading platforms or brokerages.
The absence of a commission fee may be an enticing prospect for beginners, but there are a couple of catches to that offer. First, Robinhood does not have breadth of features and coins offered by prominent crypto exchanges like Coinbase. As of October 2021, Robinhood enables trading of seven cryptocurrencies—Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Bitcoin SV, Dogecoin, and Ethereum Classic—on its platform.11 In contrast, you can trade more than 100 cryptocurrencies on Coinbase.12 The exchange also offers various order types to minimize risk and offset losses during trading.
The Robinhood platform also does not have a hosted wallet. Therefore, if you want to purchase cryptocurrencies through Robinhood, you will have to factor in additional costs for an online wallet provider.
How to Sell Bitcoin
You can sell bitcoin at the same venues where you purchased the cryptocurrency, such as cryptocurrency exchanges and peer-to-peer platforms. Typically, the process of selling bitcoin on these platforms is similar to the process used to purchase the cryptocurrency.
For example, you may only be required to click a button and specify an order type (i.e., whether the cryptocurrency should be sold instantly at available prices or whether it should be sold to limit losses) to conduct the sale. Depending on the market composition and demand at the venue, the offering price for Bitcoin may vary. For example, exchanges in South Korea traded bitcoin at a so-called kimchi premium during the run-up in its prices back in 2018.
Cryptocurrency exchanges charge a percentage of the crypto sale amount as fees. For example, Coinbase charges 1.49% of the overall transaction amount as fees.
Exchanges generally have daily and monthly withdrawal limits. Therefore, cash from a large sale may not be immediately available to the trader. There are no limits on the amount of cryptocurrency you can sell, however.