As a Vancouver resident, if you are looking to invest in bitcoin or cryptocurrency for the first time, one of the questions you are probably asking yourself is how and where to purchase it? Furthermore, as a beginner, you may be looking for some guidance and support along the way, since entering into the cryptosphere can feel intimidating, especially for those who are not especially tech savvy.
There are a number of avenues through which to buy cryptocurrency in Vancouver, whether it’s in-person or online. This short guide will take you through the different options for buying or selling bitcoin, ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies for those living in the Greater Vancouver Area. We will also list the pros and cons of each one. We’ve broken down your options into four categories: physical retail exchanges, Bitcoin ATMs, peer-to-peer trades, and online exchanges.
Physical Retail Exchanges
A popular option for many local crypto investors is to go to a brick-and-mortar exchange for their bitcoin and crypto purchases. At these locations there will be live tellers, like a bank or forex exchange, to help facilitate your transaction and accept cash as payment. Depending on the business, e-transfers and wires are often available as payment options as well. This is an excellent option for people who prefer to pay in cash as well as those who require some support and guidance and want a licensed and registered business they can trust. Trades done in this environment, where the client is getting one-on-one support from a service agent, is also known as OTC (over-the-counter).
- In-person customer service and support
- Significantly lower fees than Bitcoin ATM machiens
- Secure physical location
- The safest way to protect yourself from getting scammed
- Flexible payment options
- Accepts and pays out cash
- Meeting and getting to know those you are doing business with
- There may not be one close to where you live
- Do not operate 24/7 unlike online exchanges
Crypto Or Bitcoin ATMs (BTMs)
Bitcoin ATMs or BTMs are standalone kiosks that allow customers to buy bitcoin, ethereum and sometimes other cryptocurrencies by depositing cash into the machine. Some will allow you to sell your crypto as well, and pay you out in cash, while others only allow you to buy. Bitcoin ATMs are mostly found in convenience stores, shopping centers, bars, and other high-traffic urban locations. The easiest way to find one near you is on Coin ATM Radar, a longstanding website which lists almost every Bitcoin ATM (as well as many live tellers) in different parts of the world, including Canada and the United States. Bitcoin ATMs charge exorbitant fees and take advantage of new, inexperienced traders.
- Accept cash
- Operate longer hours (but not 24/7)
- Relatively easy to use
- Extremely high fees (10 to 15%)
- Many do not allow for sales, only purchases
- Lack of privacy due to public location
- No onsite support and very limited, unreliable phone or online support.
- Transaction delays of 48+ hours are not uncommon
A peer-to-peer (also known as P2P) transaction is when two parties meet privately to conduct a trade amongst themselves. For example, if I have 2 ETH I want to sell for cash, and a friend of mine wants to purchase 2 ETH for cash, then we can cut out the middleman and simply swap with one another. Unlike using online and brick-and-mortar exchanges or Bitcoin ATMs, which are licensed and regulated businesses, a P2P trade is simply a personal exchange between two parties. For those looking to conduct trades off the books, this may be ideal. On the other hand, you may run into risks that you would not when transacting in a more structured and predictable environment.
- For those seeking anonymity, transactions are “off-the-books”
- No fees from middleman
- You can make friends!
- Potentially dangerous, especially if you are meeting with a stranger and/or a lot of cash is involved.
- Much higher chance of getting scammed versus dealing with a reputable business
- Need to find someone wanting to take other side of the trade
- Need to find a date/time convenient for both parties, cannot transact at will.