The big news for UK bitcoiners this week is that Coinbase – a San Francisco based bitcoin exchange, has just started accepting 3D secure card payments. What that means is that you can now buy bitcoin with your debit or credit card online instantly, just like you would buy pizza.
It take about 5 minutes to set up your account, and then it’s a case of plugging in the amount you want to spend, selecting your card as payment method, and pressing the buy button. Personally I then prefer to send my bitcoin to a secure wallet of my own so that coinbase no longer have to look after it for me.
Why should you care? This service has been running in the USA for a good while now, and is considered one of the most prominent services worldwide. The big 5 UK banks have refused to give them access to the faster payments network, just like they’ve refused to give a corporate bank account to any bitcoin related company thus far, and so until now we have been limited to using wire transfers which take a few days to clear, and cost quite a bit in fees.
Bare in mind, the card option is for buying only, so you’ll need to use a bank transfer, or move your bitcoin out of the exchange if you want to sell. It’s not a liquidity problem in terms of bitcoin, so you can sell instantly into GBP if you have to liquidate your bitcoin, it’ll just take a few days to then get that GBP into your own bank account.
Controversy – Coinbase do have a bad reputation for closing people’s accounts willy nilly. So make sure you don’t do anything suspicious, and certainly don’t mention drugs, sex work, or terrorism because they will likely they’ll close your account without further notice.
Coinbase will play by the rules with no exceptions, so expect to hand in a scan of your ID if you want to trade a decent amount, and know that they will happily send all of your data to HMRC on request.
If privacy is a concern for you, I recommend you find a local bitcoin ATM, pop cash in it wearing an anonymous mask, and flee whilst waving your arms wildly. Look for a Lamassu ATM in your local CEX, or find your closest one on the map using the link below: