By Jamie Holmes
If you want to buy bitcoin in Europe, there are four ways you can do so:
Bitcoin exchanges are the most popular method to acquire bitcoin (BTC), which is not surprising since it is the cheapest way of buying cryptocurrency.
Buying bitcoin on an exchange is a relatively simple and user-friendly way to acquire bitcoin in any amount.
Most exchanges these days offer ways to set up re-occuring purchases. This makes it easy to set up daily, weekly or yearly purchases in manageable denominations and is a painless way to grow your bitcoin holdings.
These exchanges, however, are vulnerable to hacks and other security issues. Any bitcoin you leave on the platform is technically not yours, until you withdraw it to a wallet you control. If the exchange get hacked, they’ve potentially lost your bitcoin. You are also required to submit personal information and documents as evidence.
So it is best to get your funds via bank transfer into the exchange, buy your bitcoin, and then withdraw it to a wallet that is safe and allow you to hold your private key under your control.
Below is a short list of the most popular exchanges where you can exchange euros (EUR) or pounds (GBP) for bitcoin.
Decentralized, or peer-to-peer, exchanges are different from regular exchanges as they allow you to control your funds throughout the entire experience, they do not require identification to buy bitcoin, and you can transact with different methods such as cash.
Think of these exchanges as a giant swap meet where regular people can exchange their bitcoin for fiat in a person to person exchange. These markets allow the sellers to set their own price and decide which types of payments they will accept. These exchanges act as more of a matchmaking service than a typical exchange like the ones above.
Bitcoin ATMs are a novel way of buying bitcoin and are generally suitable for small purchases, but these machines are usually confined to metropolitan areas.
While ATMs are a more expensive way of buying bitcoin, there are a handful in Europe that do not require identification. Most will ask for some sort of verification, usually your mobile number, and may ask for more depending on local regulations and the size of the transaction. Bitcoin ATMs are also the quickest way of converting cash or money in the bank to bitcoin, unless you live in a rural area.
As of mid-2019, the supportive regulations of Austria, the U.K., the Czech Republic, Spain and Slovenia have resulted in the highest densities of bitcoin ATMs in these countries and their capital cities. Even smaller nation states like Albania, Latvia and San Marino have at least one bitcoin ATM.
Finally, the Swiss federal railways SBB have used its existing infrastructure to install hundreds of bitcoin ATMs across its network in 2018.
If you live in Europe, check out CoinATMRadar’s map to see if there’s a bitcoin ATM near you.
There are also physical stores where you can buy bitcoin.
And in London, U.K., there is a growing list of stores working with Cashin to provide an easy way to buy bitcoin via the Lightning Network. You simply download the app, choose the amount you want to buy and then display the QR code on your phone to the teller. On receipt of your QR code, you can then exchange your cash for bitcoins. With Cashin’s app, you can buy just under £600/€670 worth of bitcoin without having to provide identification.