Coinbase is probably the easiest and safest way to purchase bitcoins in the U.S. Unlike BitStamp, Coinbase is not an exchange. They act as a counter-party to all customer trades, you buy or sell your bitcoins directly to Coinbase. The buy/sell fee is 1% on top of the buy/sell spread. The bid/ask is usually close to BitStamp where the firm gets its liquidity from. For example, the current bid is at $635.48 and the current ask is $638.07. In addition to this, the firm has daily limits on the amount of bitcoins bought/sold. These limits are not applied on the individual level. Basically Coinbase has a set amount of bitcoins that it is willing to buy or sell every day. During times or high volatility, users may not be able to buy/sell bitcoins until Coinbase decides to ‘’refill’’ their stock. Here’s a good explanation on this issue from their Customer Support:
Increased bitcoin purchases from China and the adoption of the currency by Chinese online businesses were another driver that helped push the BTC/USD price from 195.5 at the start of November to a high of $1090 30 days later. Baidu, the biggest Chinese search engine started to offer payments in bitcoin. The chart below shows the remarkable November rally.
First, here is an example of how a standard forex trade works. Imagine you are an American trader betting on the British pound/U.S. dollar currency pair (GBP/USD). You deposit $100 with your forex broker. Assuming the rate of $1 = £0.5, you will receive £50 for your $100. If the GBP/USD rate changes to 0.45, you close the position to 50/0.45 = $111.11. That is, you make a 11.11% profit over your initial $100 deposit.
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?