This Is Not Investment Advice

Adventures in Bitcoin Buying

moneytoilet Adventures in Bitcoin BuyingOkay. The fact is, I spent upwards of $30 on a round of whiskey and pickle juice shots Saturday. That money is gone forever. I decided to do something similar today: Buy Bitcoin! After a month of fascination, I think it’s time to see BTC from the other side, Planet Money-style. So I set about trying to figure out how to buy a Bitcoin. I quickly discovered that person-to-person cash transactions are a vastly superior method because it still takes days to shuffle money if there is a bank involved. Dwolla, the PayPal competitor that takes Bitcoin, takes a few days to a week to verify your bank account and transfer the money; TradeHill.com, the newer Bitcoin exchange, takes one to three business days for a bank transfer and charges $10 a transaction to deposit funds from a U.S. bank. And if you place an order for BTC on an exchange, you have to wait for a seller to come along and accept it. Bitcoin is still rather volatile so by the time an order gets filled, drastic things could happen to the price or the currency–no good.

If you’re in New York, the next best thing is to try BTCnearme.com, which will show you who in your area is buying and selling BTC at the moment, and how far away from your zip code they are–although it doesn’t include how many BTC you’re trying to trade. There were three people selling in the vicinity of the Betabeat office; I emailed one of them and got no response.

Luckily, I knew a guy. I signed up for an account at MyBitcoin.com, a site built specifically for Bitcoin lightweights in my situation. “MyBitcoin sports an easy to use interface with large navigation buttons. It is suitable for those who are just trying Bitcoin out, or for those who want to use Bitcoin for commerce now, and without delay,” the site says. My Bitcoin dealer warned me to make a 16 character random password and never lose it, because MyBitcoin.com is famous for having no password recovery. I emailed him my Bitcoin address and he promised to send the coins over this afternoon.

If everything works out, I’ll soon have two Bitcoins of my very own, which I plan to hold on to long-term as a souvenir of the Bitcoin phenomenon. Considering legislative pressures that threaten Bitcoin and the gap between investor adoption and vendor adoption, I do feel like I’m flushing money down the internet’s tubes. I’m comforting myself with the knowledge that I can at least buy a crepe in Dumbo.

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com