I've had some difficulty with talking clients through the bitcoin process and realised that there are very few informative resources available for the UK market.
I've written a picture based quick start to buying guide, hope it helps someone. Also open to feedback to alterations, and happy to have it freely reproduced.
pdf - http://www.mediafire.com/?fs1jwahv67mcb9x
UK Guide For Buying With BTC
What is Bitcoin?
Without going into too much detail - bitcoin is a decentralised, anonymous and encrypted currency and payment system. This means no single individual or group has control of the money (like the Bank of England/Government of the pound) and that traders identities are concealed allowing private exchange.
Bitcoins (btc) are a unit of electronic currency that can be traded for goods and services or even bought with traditional currency (like US dollars or Pound Sterling). These bitcoins can then be used themselves to buy things from traders who accept them.
The entire system is based on the bitcoin program which is available for free from www.bitcoin.org
for all operating systems (more on this later).
Where do Bitcoins come from?
Again, keeping things simple – traditional currency is printed on paper or minted on to coins by its governing body based on a variety of economic factors and replenishment of damaged items etc. At any given time the governing body knows how much of their currency is in circulation and this partially determines the value of the currency itself.
Bitcoin doesn't have a body to govern this, and bitcoins are produced in a processing called “mining” by bitcoin miners. The process involves using computing power to solve a difficult problem, once a problem is solved 50btc are awarded to the miner (or group of miners) and a new, more difficult problem to solve is created. This results in a predictable production of bitcoins into the community that is related to advances in computer technology and the increase in difficulty of the mining problem.
“Free” btc for miners you're thinking? Well, yes and no. Mining is computationally difficult so significant investment has to be made into a computer that can do the work. For the average user it is possible to join a group of miners to work together on a problem, but that's beyond the scope of this guide.
How Do I Use Bitcoins?
So, you want to start buying or selling with bitcoins in the UK? Follow the guide on the following pages and that should get you going. Any issues feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Navigate to www.bitcoin.org
in your favourite web browser and download the current version of the bitcoin client from the right hand menu depending on which OS you're running
Navigate to wherever you downloaded the file and double click it to open the bitcoin client
The interface is fairly self-explanatory, but right now the bottom right hand corner is the important bit.
Bitcoin is based on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network and integration is vital for functionality. After a minute or two your number of connections will go up.
Wait a few minutes more and your block count will also start to increase. Put simply the block count is a the record of all the transactions that have occurred via bitcoin and your bitcoin program is getting up to date.
This takes time! Depending on the number of connections you'll need to leave bitcoin running for anything up to 2-3hrs
Once this is done, its time to get your hands on some bitcoins.
Navigate to www.britcoin.co.uk
and click “log in”
Here you have two options for logging in,
1. A lot of people have google or yahoo accounts, and you can use this to log in, the process is very straightforward so I wont explain it here.
2. Alternatively if you don't have one of those accounts or just don't want to link it to your britcoin account click on the MyOpenID link to create a login identity
Fairly self-explanatory, but click on the “sign up for an openid” button
Fill out the form (notice you don't have to enter an email address, so your openid doesn't have to contain any personally identifiable information). Also notice your username becomes “username.myopenid.com” Once you've entered the captcha you'll get to your MyOpenId homepage.
Navigate back to www.britcoin.co.uk
and click login again (as shown above).
Enter your username in its full form – username.myopenid.com and proceed
You should only get this page the first time you try to login, just make sure the option to skip this step box is ticked.
You've successfully logged in! Congratulations. Now you need to deposit money to intersango/britcoin so you can buy bitcoins (intersango is acting as an escrow for the bitcoin market place it hosts)
Clicking on that deposit button takes you to this page. Transfer money to the account details stated
Ensure you quote the reference given at the bottom of the details, it will be different from the one in the image above
Money transfer takes time, it can take up to 5 days for payments to clear, it is NOT instant. I suggest having a buffer of cash deposited with intersango to allow you to be more flexible with sending bitcoins
To check your balance click on “profile” in the right hand menu to see your private user information.
This page will update once your funds clear and you can now buy bitcoins.
Click trade on the right hand menu
Select British pound from the “currency I have” menu and enter the amount of money you want to convert to Bitcoins
This will then automatically do the currency conversion and show you how many bitcoins you will get. Click “Buy” to complete the purchase
You are trading on a market place and Britcoin will automatically make your offer slightly below market value, so you may not instantly be sold bitcoins by a trader. Be patient
To speed the process up you can alter the amount of bitcoins you're willing to receive for your GBP. For example, if you reduce the amount of bitcoins you want by -0.5 compared to the automatically inserted value then you will automatically purchase any bitcoins for sale at that slightly higher price. I don't want to overcomplicate things but britcoin will automatically buy the cheapest bitcoins available which means you'll still get the best value for money for the fast transaction.
You now have your hands on some bitcoins which Britcoin is holding for you so lets withdraw them.
Click “withdraw” on the right hand menu
We want to withdraw our bitcoins to our own computer so enter the amount you want to withdraw and in the address bar insert the address shown at the top of your bitcoin client (copy to clipboard and then paste it into the address bar).
Within minutes the transaction will appear on your bitcoin client and you can now send bitcoins to buy whatever it is you're after.
Sending bitcoins is incredibly easy.
First ask the seller or service provider for their bitcoin address
Click “send coins”
Enter the senders address into the “Pay To:” box and the number of bitcoins you want to send into the “Amount:” box, check the details and hit send
Once your bitcoins are gone, they're gone – double check everything
After you've sent to an address once it is saved in your address book and you can send to it again by clicking the address book button and selected it
This isn't exactly a “step” but its vital. You need to let your bitcoin program tell the rest of the network that you've sent your coins to that address so that it can be forwarded on to the seller – basically you need to leave bitcoin running after you've sent the coins until you see 6 confirmations next to the transaction on the main page of the program
Ideally leave your bitcoin client running as much as possible, this will keep it fully updated and integrated allowing more rapid transfers. Everytime you reload the bitcoin client it has to spend some time updating its blockchain
If you get stuck, try here first (its a better guide but I've tried to strip it down)https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Getting_started
Bitcoins on your computer need to be protected – they're your money. Please read and implement the following:https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Securing_your_wallet
This is obviously a quick start guide for buying with bitcoins, I've written it to simplify things for the majority of computer users and it is not all encompassing. Please read more around the topic on the bitcoin website or wikipedia – its interesting
I am in no way affiliated with the creators of bitcoin or any structured bitcoin community
I take no responsibility for any loss of funds that occur while following my guide
This guide is totally open to reproduction, adaptation and alteration but should not be sold for financial gain under any circumstances
If this has helped you at all I do accept tiny donations @ 1F9AyH32TQnvTGhN6BJnayqWDEdXYmFAJn