Bitcoin means many different things to many different people. Some see it as the global currency of the future, while others see it as a way to make money right now. Bitcoin’s astonishing rise in value has attracted investors from around the world to get in on the action.
Now, you can buy and sell bitcoin in the same way you would trade currencies or buy on the stock market. There are companies that offer platforms to do this, called bitcoin exchanges.
Some of the bitcoin exchanges have developed mobile apps, so you can profit from the rising (or falling) price of bitcoin right from your fingertips.
A bitcoin exchange is a place where you can exchange bitcoins for something else, such as US dollars.
You can buy bitcoins in many different ways. Buying from a trusted individual, using a bank transfer, buying with cash in person, are all possible. These can some have advantages, such as keeping your transactions anonymous.
Bitcoin exchanges have other advantages, such as simplicity, ease of use, fast trades, higher security (sometimes), and tools to make your bitcoin trading easier and possibly more profitable.
CEX.IO is a popular bitcoin exchange for beginners and pros. They have a great mobile app and offer a wide range of features while keeping things simple.
On the CEX.IO exchange you can trade bitcoin, litecoin, ether, US Dollars, Euros and GBP.
App Features: Excellent
You can register for an account, buy bitcoins with a credit card and withdraw your funds all within the app. This is great, especially for those looking for a complete bitcoin package.
In addition to this, there is a bunch of tools available to help make the experience more fun and more profitable. Things like
Instant card payments
Transaction history & finance management
App authorisation (in case your phone is lost)
24/7 Customer Support
Compare bitcoin prices across different exchanges
Advanced bitcoin trading with limit and market orders
Ease of use: Good
If you have some knowledge of bitcoin and want to trade currencies, the app is a good option. Beginners might find it easier to start with one of the simpler bitcoin exchanges below. Besides getting bitcoin with the credit card is made easy here, especially for the newcomers.
BTCC is a bitcoin exchange based in China, the largest bitcoin market. This makes it a great place to buy and sell your bitcoins. It’s the longest running bitcoin exchange and boasts a 100% security record.
Features: Very Good
Like CEX.IO, this one has handy tools including real-time price tracking, historic charts, and prices from other exchanges. There are also more advanced trading options such as market, limit, stop and OCO orders.
One thing I like about this app is the news section. You can look up the latest news relating to bitcoin to help you guess if the price will go up or down.
The app also gives you a clear breakdown of assets, so it’s easy to know exactly what you have bought and sold.
Ease of Use: Good
It’s fairly intuitive to use and there aren’t too many complicated features. There are also some cool things like touch ID for securely logging into the app.
Based in Slovenia, Bitstamp is a trusted bitcoin exchange running since 2011. It is a fully licensed bitcoin exchange and allows you to trade bitcoin, USD, Euros, British Pounds, and Swiss Francs.
The Bitstamp mobile app is basic but gets the job done. Anything you can do with your Bitstamp account you can do on the app. This includes
Buying and selling bitcoin
Keeping up with market data
Deposit and withdraw funds
PIN code app authentication
Ease of Use
The exchange doesn’t have the advanced features and tech of others, but it makes up for it by being easy to use and understand.
The fee structure is simple, and the learning curve is easy. If you just want to buy and sell bitcoins easily this is a great option.
ShapeShift is probably the world’s simplest bitcoin exchange. This is because you can only exchange bitcoin for other cryptocurrencies, so no banks or financial institutions are involved. Right now you can trade
These are ‘Altcoins’ - Cryptocurrencies that are distinct from bitcoin.
Ease of Use: Extreme!
ShapeShift it’s so easy to use it has been described as like a cryptocurrency vending machine. Just insert crypto-coins into one end, and receive your selection at the other.
The flip side to this simplicity is that you are limited beyond swapping cryptocurrency. There is a nice transaction history page.
You can only trade between cryptocurrencies. There are no tools to help you make your decision at all.
Just remember, when you hold bitcoins or fiat currency on an exchange, you are trusting them to look after it. The horror story of Mt. GOX was a wake up to all bitcoin users and traders. If you are new to bitcoin, you need to adjust to the idea of taking responsibility for your funds. Store them in your own wallet.
The value of bitcoin is also uncertain. It’s history is plagued with hacks and scandals, sending the price plummeting with no warning. Make sure you only buy what you can afford to lose.
As with everything to do with bitcoin, the decision is highly personal. Security, privacy, cost, flexibility, technical knowledge and your location all factor in your decision. Even if you make the right choice now, it could change in the near future.
Use the guidelines above to choose the app best suited to your needs.