The entire world is migrating towards a paperless society. In 1980, if you wanted to get a copy of a court case, you had to go down to the clerk, pay for the paper, and wait. It could take hours. By 1990, you could pay over the phone, and it could be faxed to your lawyer. You still had to wait, but now it was your paper and you saved a trip. By 1995, the fax could go right into your computer. No paper needed unless you wanted to make a copy. Forward to 2013, and many cases can be downloaded right from government websites, free of charge. There is not a single industry that hasn’t been impacted by the rush to replace paper with technology.
Currency is no exception. If you think currency is not an industry, then you probably don’t realize that the US Federal Reserve is not run by the US government. The Federal Reserve is in the business of money. You can read more about it here: http://www.businessinsider.com/who-actually-owns-the-federal-reserve-2013-10
Enter virtual currency. Virtual currency has its start in video games. Fifteen years ago gamers began earning virtual dollars. They could buy weapons, land, jewels, food, and whatever else a game offered. Some people started to earn so much money online that they couldn’t spend it all. That surplus became a model for making money. The extra, virtual, dollars could be sold for real dollars.
Moving back to 2013, we have a new virtual currency, or cryptocurrency, the Bitcoin. Every day the Bitcoin becomes more popular, and more widely used. Depending on where you live, you can pay for a pizza with it, buy farm fresh produce, get cash from an ATM, or simply invest in it.
Some people are afraid of Bitcoin, that may be a wise choice. A year ago one Bitcoin was worth about $13.00. A week ago it reached $900. No one knows where it will be in another year. Regardless of your thoughts on the currency, you are here because you want to buy a Bitcoin, or a fraction of a Bitcoin, and want to know how to do it.
In order to buy a Bitcoin, you need to follow these steps:
First, you need to have a wallet to put it in. We are not talking about the leather thing in your back pocket or purse. You need a virtual wallet. There are many choices for wallets, but the most popular wallets are at Blockchain or downloading a wallet app for you phone from Apple Apps or Google Play. At blockchain.info you can click on the wallet tab and register for a wallet. At the app stores, you can simply download a wallet app.
After you have a wallet, you need to know how the wallet works. Bitcoin wallets have two keys, a public key and a private key. The public key allows you to accept bitcoin from anyone or anyhwere. The private key allows you to send, or spend, bitcoin. Everyone can see your public key, and hopefully no one can see your private key. You should always keep your private key hidden. If someone gets ahold of your private key, they can spend(steal) your money at any time.
Once you are comfortable with how your wallet works. You need to acquire some Bitcoin. Bitcoins can be divided up into fractions. So if you don’t want to spend $900 on one Bitcoin, you can start small. A good start would be 1/100 or 1/10 of a Bitcoin(.01BTC or .1BTC)
If you know someone who owns Bitcoins, the easiest thing to do would be to pay them for the Bitcoin, give them your public key, and have them send you the Bitcoin. If you don’t know anyone with Bitcoin, you have other options. You can go to the site LocalBitcoins. Here you can find people that live near you, trading Bitcoins. If you don’t feel comfortable giving money to a stranger you can deposit money in a Bitcoin exchange, then use that money to buy Bitcoin right from the exchange. The 3 most popular exchanges are MtGox, Bitstamp, and BTCChina. Once you deposit the money into the exchange, you can buy any amount of Bitcoin from the exchange, and transfer it to your wallet.
Good luck with Bitcoin, and remember to never share your private key with anyone.