Using Bitcoin is easier than most people think. There are basically four steps involved, and all can be quickly executed using various online services and apps. Bitcoin is different than what you may use to make payments or receive funds via PayPal or other online means. Before you start using Bitcoin, there are articles in this bitcoin basics series you should review first.
Once you’ve informed yourself to use bitcoin securely and avoid common mistakes, the first step is to choose a wallet. There are numerous free bitcoin wallets available for all operating systems and devices, and the selection of which to use depends on your individual needs. Wallet apps can be installed on a mobile device for everyday use, or online payments can be made from a wallet that is on your computer. Choosing a wallet is easy, and most newcomers opt for a wallet on a trusted exchange, such as Coinbase, because setup is quick and simple.
The second step is to obtain some bitcoin, and this can be accomplished by accepting it as payment for goods or services, or you can buy it. Most newcomers buy a small amount – you can buy as little or as much as you want, Bitcoin is divisible by 8 decimal points. So, for example, you can buy $20 USD worth of bitcoin using either your bank account or credit/debit card on some exchanges. The funds are deposited into your wallet and you are ready to spend it, or send it to someone else, or to yourself if you have another wallet.
Secure Your Bitcoins
Using bitcoin comes with a responsibility most people are not used to, as it requires 100% accountability on the part of the user. There is no central authority for which you can turn if you make a mistake and send the wrong amount to the wrong address. Transactions are non-reversible unless sent to someone you know personally who is willing to return funds sent in error. Securing private keys is essential to protect any investment in bitcoin.
The final step in the “get started” process is to send bitcoin. This is a simple process that involves entering the recipient’s bitcoin address, choosing an amount, and clicking to send and confirm. Think of a bitcoin address as similar to an email address. Each is unique and used publicly to send and receive data – a bitcoin address is used publicly to send and receive funds. The important thing to remember is to carefully check your entry before pushing that SEND button, as there is no recourse once you do in most cases.
Once sent, your bitcoin will be transferred from your wallet to the recipient’s wallet. You can send it to another wallet you own, or to someone else, or use it to pay for goods and services online.
That’s really all there is to using bitcoin!