Cryptocurrency Buying Obstacles and How to Overcome Them
A few years ago, I had decided I wanted to own cryptocurrency. Given that nobody wanted to do business in my country, I had to convince a friend in Qatar to buy it for me. After that, I waited for him to come back home for holidays to refund him for his work. Couldn’t be simpler, right? Sure, if you have a trustworthy friend that’s also willing to help you out. In case you’re lacking in the “friends in awesome countries” department, buying cryptocurrency in some countries around the globe can be quite the challenge.
The idea of cryptocurrency is a noble effort of reclaiming our right to the means of trade. Before its invention and subsequent popularity, the average person didn't pay much heed to the fact that, ultimately, someone else had power over their money. Cryptocurrency, however, means taking ownership of things that should have been yours in the first place – that elected official’s son can’t fund his new BMW X5 through your bank account.
But laws exist for a reason, and cryptocurrency can be banned from certain places. All but shady exchanges also tend to stay away from certain places of the world, regardless of any possible demand. This can hinder its acquisition somewhat, but let’s not kid ourselves, people like solving challenges like that just because they’re there. Illegal or unavailable never meant impossible. The fact remains that, if you truly want to own a shiny crypto wallet, of course you can. Let’s take a walk through your options, depending on your circumstances.
(To be fair, possibility that cryptocurrency is banned in your country exists and is very real. And in all honesty, it’s not that powerful. China clashed with crypto… And the crypto worlds still finds its way. Still, you may not be able to access trading platforms from your country, but do keep reading. At least one of the ways we are covering is bound to help you out.)
Feel like going for a walk? Find a crypto ATM
Arguably the simplest way of buying cryptocurrency, these are not ATMs in the traditional sense – you cannot withdraw Bitcoin, since it is not a physical currency. Instead, some ATMs enable the redemption of Bitcoins for cash. Its main usage, however, is the purchase of Bitcoin: you choose the amount you want to buy, verify your identity, and voila! Your crypto wallet is a little thicker.
These ATMs are, unfortunately, not available everywhere. While coinatmradar.com shows you the location of all nearby crypto ATMs, you may have to travel far to find one. For people from unsupported countries, this is an option only if they are on vacation in a country that is supported. High fees may also prove problematic: no matter where you come from, chances are you would want to avoid the fees these ATMs usually charge. While this may be an almost negligible mark-up when dealing with small amounts, if you are seriously in the business and trying to profit, you can and will feel the difference.
So now you may decide that you don’t need that walk after all. You’d much rather trade from your own home anyway.
Find an exchange platform that does support your country
While exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken and Gemini may be the most logical choices, if you come from a country that is not supported by them, do not despair: a fair number of reliable platforms are still available to you. This site offers some options, along with advice on how to choose. But, as with most platforms, abandon all anonymity ye who enter here. Most trusted platforms will want as much information from you as they can get. This comes from two things: AML - Anti Money Laundering procedures, laws and regulations - and KYC - Know Your Customer. Understanding where they come from, however, does not mean wanting to upload a selfie of you holding your driver’s license. Platforms have fees, too. More affordable than ATM fees, true, but you may be trading your local fiat currency for USD/EUR to be able to trade crypto anyway, so it could add up.
Still, you may have a myriad of reasons for not wanting to trade through platforms, which leads us to:
Peer-to- peer exchanges (in the truest sense)
Facing the aforementioned obstacles, the easiest solution that springs to mind is, “Let others deal with this and I could just trade with like-minded people outside of these restrictions.”
LocalBitcoins.com offers exactly that: trading with people from your country, through your preferred payment option, with an escrow. It is fast, imposes no trading limits, and requires no personal information – the very idea of cryptocurrency in terms of decentralization and privacy. The scam potential is very high though, especially with reversible payment methods such as PayPal. As for those dreaded fees: LocalBitcoins charges a flat 1% fee on all trades.
The methods people use to fly under the radar are especially interesting. For example, LocalBitcoins user elmorte from Bosnia only accepts national bank transfers in the local currency (with a significant mark-up, but this seems to be the price one pays for taking the path of least resistance). This user requests that OLX, an online marketplace, be written as the payment reference, especially warning that Bitcoin should not be mentioned in the bank. This is due to the fact that many banks refuse to work with cryptocurrency: a user of the forum crypto.ba claims to have received a message from his bank that states: “Please note that (Bank) does not process bank transfers that originate from Bitcoin related businesses.” It stands to reason that banks could refuse service to someone who dares utter any word with the crypto prefix. Thus, ingenious - yet legal – ideas are born.
There is still the issue of trust. You don’t know the person who is supposed to trade with you, and they may cheat you out of a pretty sum. So find people you trust, then.
Having someone buy your cryptocurrency for you
If you have, say, an aunt in Germany, you could very well send her the money to buy you an amount of cryptocurrency to lower fees, thanks to the availability of affordable exchange platforms. The most obvious drawback to this would still be the issue of trust, though. Who can guarantee that auntie won’t take advantage of you if tempted? It would certainly make for awkward family reunions later on. The cheating risk from P2P exchanges we talked about previously is significantly diminished if you know the person you’re working with, like in my own story. I do maintain that your mileage may vary.
Congratulations! You have now traded coins
It is obvious that for every action governments take against cryptocurrencies, people will have a solution. No matter where in the world you are, the world of cryptocurrency is waiting for. Its spirit thrives because it is a promise of freedom in yet another aspect of our lives, and in that name, you can bet your last Bitcoin that these services will be available worldwide and for acceptable fees before long. Until then, give a call to your friends and relatives in the diaspora, you never know when you may need them.