What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a new technology used by people and businesses. It is not owned by any one company, but the technology is available for many companies to use. It is free and open-source, just like the internet.

How do I get started using Bitcoin?

To be able to use Bitcoin, you need an account, called a Bitcoin wallet. It is similar to opening an account to use email. Just as there are many types of email accounts (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail), there are many types of Bitcoin wallets. You can download a wallet on your phone or computer by doing a simple search in your App Store, Play Store or online. We recommend Bitcoin Wallet and Mycelium for Android phones and Blockchain for iPhones. If you have any other type of phone, go to http://blockchain.info in your web browser.

Why do I need a Bitcoin wallet? Why can’t I send money straight from my bank?

You can’t send a written paper letter over your email account. You have to create an electronic version, called an email. Only electronic mail can travel between email accounts. The same works for Bitcoin. You cannot send a Dollar or a Euro or Kenyan Shilling between Bitcoin wallets. Only an electronic, or digital currency can move between Bitcoin wallets. By using Bitcoin you can send money cheaper, faster and easier than sending bank transfers internationally.

How do I buy Bitcoin?

Now that you have downloaded a free Bitcoin wallet from the internet, and received a Bitcoin address from your wallet, you can go ahead and buy Bitcoin to store and send from your wallet. Adding money to a Bitcoin wallet is similar to topping-up your phone account or adding money to PayPal. You have to go to an online Bitcoin “store” or exchange and fund your wallet. The best Bitcoin store for you is the one located in whatever country you have a bank account. Try www.circle.com if you’re in the US or www.Coinbase.com if you’re in the US or Europe. And, now you can buy Bitcoin from BitPesa if you’re in Kenya, Nigeria or Uganda!

Is Bitcoin legal? Why do I hear so many crazy things about it?

Bitcoin is definitively legal in all African countries, in North America, Europe, and most of Asia and South America. Bitcoin is only illegal in Bolivia, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Iceland and Kyrgzstan. Elsewhere, governments, central banks and regulators have all been issuing evolving statements on the use of Bitcoin as a means of payment and investment.

Bitcoin is new Many disruptive, new technologies take time to gain acceptance. When Bitcoin was first invented, it was not regulated. Now, there are very clear laws for Bitcoin companies. BitPesa is registered in the US as a Money Remittance Business and incorporated in three different jurisdictions. Our team follows international law and so do the below Bitcoin exchanges, which should ask you for basic identity information, like your Name, Address and ID. Bitcoin moves monetary value, so just like a bank account or Western Union transfer, international law requires the collection of some basic identification to prevent money-laundering and terrorism-financing.

Want to learn more about Bitcoin?

If you want to read more about the technology behind Bitcoin and how it is one of the most robust, interesting new technologies in financial services, check out the below links:

Coverage of the basics, lots of links to next steps:

Updates, opinions and news:

Charts, regulatory and technical data:

Hundreds of articles on all things Bitcoin:

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