Edited and prepared by Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU.

Great guest post by Liina Laas from Paxful, a peer to peer money maketplace. 

In this day and age when bitcoin is booming you would expect it to be really easy to get your hands on some bitcoins, right? Wrong. The more popular this awesome crypto becomes the harder it seems for a first time user to get their hands on bitcoin. It’s all well and good if you are a tech savvy crypto enthusiast but what about when you’re just getting into it?

How to buy bitcoin if you’re in a hurry?

The largest and most popular places to obtain bitcoins are exchanges. This is all good when you’ve set your account up and got verified already. Not so good when you need to buy bitcoin fast. Right now a lot of bitcoin exchanges are struggling to keep up with the huge demand and it might take days, even weeks to get your account verified. Before you’ve done this, there is no way for you to buy bitcoin with a credit card for example.

As bitcoin prices fluctuate a lot, by the time that you’ve got your account verified the price might already not be the one you were looking to buy at. What if you don’t want to buy using a credit card? What if you haven’t got one and have no way of obtaining it? When bitcoin arrived it promised very fast and free transactions all over the world, for everyone. This would truly be the case, if everyone had Bitcoin. Yet it seems that as time passes it is taking a lot longer and you need to jump through more hoops to get your first bitcoin.

The problem

Two friends trying to buy and sell bitcoin online to make ends meet, realised that there were all sorts of roadblocks. The deeper they looked into it they realised there was even a bigger problem for a vast amount of people. 2.5 billion people today have no access to financial services. Not because they choose to, they have restraints due to their credit ratings, their income or the part of the world they were born in.

Thanks to their coding skills they were able to create Paxful, a bitcoin marketplace. This is a place where people can meet and exchange all sorts of payments for bitcoin. Like Ebay for online payments if you like. Be it gift cards, cash, online transfers or card payments.

Paxful was founded in 2015 and is based in Tallinn, the hottest startup capital of Europe. Currently with a userbase of 700 000 and growing fast, Paxful connects 50 000 people every single day. The weekly volume has doubled compared to the beginning of 2017 and is hitting over $5 million on a regular basis.

After talking to the customers and gathering feedback they realized that people aren’t doing this to make a profit or for investing in Bitcoin. These were people that had no way of paying online.

Some cases came up that they’d not even thought of. People in Nigeria for example, trying to buy something online but due to the restrictions from their banks were limited to only very small amounts. To solve this issue, they buy gift cards with cash, exchange them into bitcoin and then find someone that turns the coins into Alipay for example. Give people the tools and they will find a way.

Bitcoin is a problem solver

Everyone should have a way to pay. There are so many cool things you can do and buy on the internet, that many people can only dream of. That is just not right. Yes, it might be something that in the grand scheme of things that may seem unimportant, like wanting that iPhone. It may also be something a lot more deep that can save lives, for example sending money to relatives at an area of conflict.

Bitcoin allows us to do this, and there should be no restrictions of entry. Different people from all over the world with different stories and situations can meet and exchange values with one another.

You may quickly need bitcoin to pay for the things your bank won’t let you.

No authority should have the right to restrict people from using their hard earned money. It may just be the need to make some use of the gift cards people got from someone that are now gathering dust in a drawer (sorry, grandma). Almost any payment option is available to convert to bitcoin on Paxful and vice versa.

ICO Boom

ICO’s have become the next big thing and everyone wants in on it. People that are already familiar with Bitcoin are also looking at other altcoins. Ethereum has paved the way for crowd sales and some remarkable things are being created at a vast speed. Even though Paxful was originally created as a marketplace for Bitcoin, people are now creating offers to buy altcoins like Ethereum on the platform. Development is now in process to allow people to do that better.

Altcoins and tokens are now too slowly but steadily going mainstream and the Paxful team is finding ways to introduce these to the crypto first timers.

Paxful extends the financial democracy of a decentralized currency like bitcoin by creating a peer to peer marketplace especially designed for on-boarding new buyers, some people call it the “people’s Wallstreet”.-Ray Youssef

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