Cryptocurrencies are digital assets that have been around since 2009 when Satoshi Nakamoto mined Bitcoin’s genesis block (block 0). More than ten years later, the developer’s true identity remains unverified. For this, some countries remain adamant to accept cryptocurrency to this day. However, crypto eventually found its way in the world’s biggest financial markets, including the U.S.
This article delves into the status of cryptocurrency in the U.S., restrictions, and how you can get and spend crypto while in the country.
Cryptocurrency Regulations in the U.S.
Cryptocurrencies haven’t always been legal in the U.S.; their decentralized nature made control by the government difficult. Despite finding a way into the U.S. market, the government, both federal and state, is yet to recognize cryptocurrency as legal tender.
The federal government’s focus has been mainly on the administrative level through government agencies: SEC, CFTC, FTC, IRS, and FinCEN, but hasn’t been much involved in enforcing directives. In the absence of federal guidelines on cryptos, state governments took the matter into their hands.
Restrictions at the states’ level have taken two approaches. Some states like Colorado, Arizona, and Georgia passed policies that favor cryptocurrency growth as a technology. Others like New York, New Mexico, California, and Texas are taking the restrictive approach. For example, Shapeshift can’t do business in Texas.
Ways to Get Crypto in the U.S.
The governments’ attention given to the cryptocurrencies has led to its popularity in the U.S. that sold it to businesses. Today, several major U.S businesses such as Microsoft, Overstock, and Virgin Galactic accept bitcoin for payment of goods and services.
To be able to pay or trade with cryptocurrency, you must first own some. Unfortunately, very few people in the U.S. know how to get cryptocurrency. To help you join the loop, below are ways to get cryptocurrency in the U.S.
Buying is the easiest and most popular way to acquire cryptos. You can buy bitcoins from a trader either directly or via an exchange.
To buy cryptocurrency in the U.S., you need to follow the below steps.
Step 1. Choose a Crypto wallet
Like a physical wallet, a crypto wallet is an online software program used to store digital coins safely. A crypto wallet stores private keys used to access public cryptocurrency addresses.
There are different types of crypto wallets to choose from:
- Hardware wallets – stores your private keys offline.
- Desktop wallets – Private keys are stored in the computer’s hard drive. A good example is Exodus.
- Mobile wallets – As an application accessible from an Android or iOS device, e.g., Jaxx.
- Web wallets – These are accessible only through the internet.
- Paper wallets – the Private and public keys are printed on a paper as a scannable code.
As part of its Anti-Money Laundering Policy, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires crypto users to verify their identities using personal documents (e.g., Driving Licence) before buying or selling cryptocurrencies.
Step 2. Choosing a crypto exchange – A bitcoin exchange is a platform that links crypto buyers with sellers. Different exchanges have different features. Hundreds of exchanges exist in the market today, giving you a range of options.
Step 3. Select a Payment method – Exchanges accept a range of payment options. In the U.S., you can use traditional payment methods; credit card, debit card, or bank transfer (ACH). Other payment options include Paypal, P2P exchanges, or Bitcoin ATMs.
Step 4. Buy Crypto – Having followed all the above steps, you can now browse for the best deals in the market, initiate a buy order, and store purchased cryptos in a wallet.
Where to buy crypto in the U.S.
The following are some of the licensed exchanges and mobile Apps where you can buy cryptocurrencies in the U.S.
Tradestation is one of the best web-based cryptocurrency platforms where you can buy cryptos in the U.S. The platform supports buying and selling several cryptos, including bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, XPR, and Bitcoin Cash.
Bittrex is a Seattle-based cryptocurrency exchange established in 2014. It has more than 100 tradeable coins, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
Kraken is a web platform that supports 18 different cryptos, including Monero, Ripple, and Dash.
Gemini was established in 2015 by the Winklevoss twins. It is a licensed crypto exchange for trading Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, ZCash, and Gemini Dollar (GUSD).
Robinhood is a mobile application that allows users to buy/sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum Classic.
Coinbase is the largest crypto exchange in the U.S. The exchange has over 20 million users. You can buy/sell 14 different cryptos, including BTC, ETH, and LTC.
Voyager is a New York-based broker that helps investors buy, sell and trade cryptocurrencies. Voyager supports Ethereum, Bitcoin, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and dozens of other digital coins commission-free. The exchange is available as a web platform and a mobile application.
ABRA is a cryptocurrency application founded in 2014 with headquarters in California. ABRA application offers a one-stop place to buy, trade, and hold up to 25 digital currencies and 50 Fiat currencies. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices.
Cryptocurrency mining involves adding transactions to the crypto’s public ledger or the blockchain. This method of getting cryptos is suitable for tech-savvy holders. You earn crypto rewards for every successful mining.
In a nutshell, when a block (transaction) is generated, crypto miners subject it to a verification process before adding it to the chain. A complex mathematical formula is applied to the block’s data to generate a hash – a shorter version of the information.
The process is a rigorous one that requires coding skills and a powerful computer, high power electricity connectivity, and other gadgets, e.g., coolers. Alternatively, you can use communal crypto mining services at a fee.
Though expensive, mining cryptos in the U.S. is legal and convenient. It’s costly because the mining process consumes a lot of power.
However, due to their affordable energy rates, researchers recommend five convenient states to mine Bitcoin: Washington, Louisiana, Tennessee, Idaho, and Arkansas. On the other hand, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Alaska, Connecticut, and New Hampshire are the most expensive states to mine bitcoin in the U.S.
Crypto enthusiasts are optimistic that mining in the U.S. will soon be more accessible and cheaper with the setting of the biggest Bitcoin mining facility (worth $65 million) in Virginia and another massive facility under construction in Rockdale, Texas.
The technology behind cryptocurrency is genuinely revolutionary. Bitcoin faces a market that’s ripe for disruption. Financial systems in the U.S. direly need an overhaul. Today’s payment systems are slow, expensive, and prone to errors. Cryptos, on the other hand, help deliver results faster while doing so cheaply and safely.
The acceptance of cryptos as a payment option by major businesses set the stage for the governments to rethink its stand on cryptos. All focus is now on replacing fiat with cryptos. The process has already taken off with policies put in place that paves the way for cryptos. From all angles, there has never been a better time to own cryptos.