Yesterday my friend Tom decided to teach me how to sell bitcoins, and directed me to make an account at Localbitcoins.com. Localbitcoins is a service that allows buyers and sellers to find each other to facilitate real-life transactions. It reminds me of Craigslist with a built-in Wallet. It’s got a clean design with a nice interface, plus Tom had been using it for a long time. He let me borrow some coins to try to sell, and I created an ad. Sadly, even with reading the FAQ quickly, I’d have to admit to asking him stupid questions nearly every step of the way.
Some of my IMs were:
“not sure how to get the actual bitcoin from you to the person”
I’d never sent anyone a bitcoin and had very little idea how.
“so theres no like “send bitcoin” button, tho there should be”
The problem here was that since it wanted to hold a percentage of bitcoin for fees, I didn’t have enough to pay my buyer. This wasn’t obvious.
“i keep saving feedback but i dont see it on your profile”
It was hiding out under Unconfirmed
After I had it going, we did a trial transaction. I felt a lot more comfortable with it after that. A couple hours later, I got a message from a guy who wanted to buy 4 bitcoins! We had a problem though; my Tradehill transfer from Tom hadn’t gone through yet. Sad trombone. I gave it 2 hours before replying to the guy that I’d sell at the price he wanted if he could meet the next day. I got a reply in the morning asking if I took PayPal. I was warned against PayPal because someone could contest the transaction for about 2 months, so replied saying that I wanted cash. He asked if I could sell him 4 bitcoins in NYC. I’m in LA. I think he either was trying to scam me, or just didn’t understand the website. I cancelled the transaction.
Just as I’m leaving to get lunch with my boyfriend, I get another message from a potential buyer. I reply within minutes and ask if Boston Market’s cool. I think the buyer lives near me, as he arrived shortly after I did. I was in the middle of eating my quarter white chicken with spinach sides. Quickly I wiped the grease from my fingers and pulled out my iphone.
The buyer was probably early-twenties, and looked as nervous as I was. He had a printout with him, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I had already loaded up the mobile version of the localbits site, with our transaction loaded up. He handed me mixed bills, and I held them to the light to make sure they were real. While the lady at the Boston Market register has known me for years, I felt very conspicuous, like they’d think I was a drug dealer or something. My boyfriend started chatting with the buyer, who revealed that he wanted to get into mining, and that this was his first time buying bitcoins.
“It’s my first time, too,” I admitted in relief. We high-fived and I funded and released the transaction. I got a confirmation code, which was also texted to me, and it matched what was also on one of his printouts. Easy! I quickly wrote some good feedback, and we chatted about bitcoins for a few minutes.
Overall, I really liked the localbits service. Their site could have better UI, but once I realized where everything was, it was really easy to use. The confirmation codes were a level of security that made me feel better about selling coins. Tonight I’m going to a Darth and Vader show while dressed as a Jedi, and I’m going to sell bitcoins while I’m there. This site makes it easy to trade coins as part of your everyday life, and enable anyone to be a banker.