A lot of you have asked me whether trading bitcoin is better than buying it. The answer depends on your goals, and experience of bitcoin trading. If you're looking to hold bitcoin as a long-term investment and check the price intermittently, it's better to buy bitcoin. This way you benefit from a small, one time exchange fee and the assurance that you hold a physical bitcoin in your wallet which can be spent at various retail stores.

By comparison, however, altcoins are exponentially more volatile. Because they have such low market caps (the total value of all coins combined), altcoin markets are highly prone to price manipulation. Wealthy traders–colloquially called “whales”–often inject large amounts of capital into low-priced coins to build hype and cause the price to skyrocket. Once the price has risen considerably, the whales sell their coins on exchanges at a massive profit, hurting many gullible investors in the process. This method is known as a “pump and dump.” Not only does this hurt greedy traders who did not take the time to do their homework, but it often proves to be the breath of an altcoin’s brief lifespan.
Despite the fact that your bet on British pounds earned you an 11.11% profit (from $1,000 to $1,111.11), the fluctuation in the bitcoin to U.S. dollar rate means that you still sustain a loss of .016 bitcoin, or -0.8%. (initial deposit of 2 bitcoins — 1.984 bitcoins = .016 bitcoin). However, had the bitcoin to U.S. dollar exchange rate changed to 1 bitcoin = $475, you would realize a profit from both the forex trade and the bitcoin exchange. In other words, you would have received ($1,111.11/$475) = 2.339 bitcoins, a profit of 16.95%.
But where are the bitcoins actually stored? After you install one of the two clients above, you can find your bitcoins in a file called wallet.dat. If you use windows this file will be located in the application data section. If your computer gets stolen or lost and you haven’t made a copy of the wallet.dat file you will lose your bitcoins. It is always recommend to backup this file.
Monero is a privacy coin and the preferred coin in darknet markets (which is likely why Coinbase won’t be adding it any time soon). It has solid transaction schematics that involves ring signatures and stealth addresses created on an ad hoc basis to keep transactions private. Monero also runs on a proof of work verification standard similar to Bitcoin. PoW means there will always be a value behind XMR, even if only the cost of energy. Finally, Monero has a strong base of community support because it was founded on principles of privacy and decentralization. These values are central to the original cryptocurrency concept. This is why I think it is a good long term investment right now.

Finally, if you want low fees but still want to go the traditional exchange route, I’d recommend either Gemini, a New York-based site which offers some of the lowest fees around (but doesn’t operate in all states so check first to see if your state is catered for), or Kraken, which also charges low fees but can be a bit tricky for new users and the customer service isn’t all that great.
The best bitcoin exchange is needed for serious and professional bitcoin traders. Bitcoin security must be impeccable. Banking relationships must be sound and reliable. The trading engine must be fast. Order types must be advanced. And profits must be able to be multiplied with Bitcoin margin trading so you can leverage long bitcoin positions or short bitcoin positions.
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Btc.sx offers a 10 to 1 leveraged product based on BitStamp’s data feed. Similarly to Ava Trade, Btc.sx adds around 10$ to the spread at BitStamp. You will need a deposit of at least 0.01033 of a bitcoin in order to trade at Btc.sx. At current bitcoin prices of $638, this amounts to around 6.3$. Btc.sx is dually incorporated in England and Singapore. The exchange currently accepts only bitcoin deposits, no fiat currency deposits are allowed.
At the time when this guide was written, January 2014, the price of one bitcoin stood at $913, down slightly after reaching an all-time high of over $1,200 earlier in December. The new cryptocurrency came a long way from trading below $4 just two years ago. Major online and offline retailers are starting to add the new currency as a payment method. But what exactly is bitcoin?
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