Bitcoin prices recently hit a new all-time high, with one unit of the cryptocurrency trading at £4813.32 ($6.345) on Monday October 30.
Analysts have put the recent price surge down to a number of factors, including the decline in support for bitcoin cash and other hard forks.
China resuming cryptocurrency trading earlier this year and South Korea’s recent announcement that it plans to adopt bitcoin as a commodity have also helped the market to soar.
Tens of millions of people have opened bitcoin wallets and are buying into the digital currency. Here’s how you can be one of them.
1. Sign up for a bitcoin wallet
A bitcoin wallet is a piece of software which acts like a bank account and holds your bitcoin.
There are countless options but the most popular is Blockchain with more than 15 million users and more than 100 million transactions processed.
Go to Blockhain.info/wallet or download the app to use.
2. Secure your bitcoin
Before purchasing any bitcoin it is important to make sure your wallet is secure.
Blockchain’s security centre helps users to backup funds and protect them for unauthorised access. Other wallet providers will have similar measures.
If you are investing large amounts of money, Bitcoin.org advises using an offline wallet for savings.
There are two approaches that can be used: offline transaction signing – which involves using two computers (one of which is disconnected from any network) to process a transaction, and hardware wallets – which are physical devices used to store bitcoin.
3. Find a broker
Once you’ve opened and secured your wallet, you’re ready to buy some bitcoin.
To do that, you’ll need to find a broker or an exchange, companies that sell bitcoin in exchange for currency.
As of 11.40am on October 30, one bitcoin costs £4683.20 ($6,171.04). You can, in theory, buy any decimal amount – but most sellers have a minimum of about 0.001 bitcoin (£4.68 as of this morning).
BittBoy.co.uk is a comparison website which shows the current rates at different brokers, minimum and maximum purchases and trust ratings.
Every broker will ask for your bitcoin address – this is different to your wallet log-in and is a string of characters which identifies your account.
On Blockchain it can be found in the request tab.
4. Spend or sell
A growing list of retailers accept bitcoin as payment – see the website WhereToSpendBitcoins.co.uk for an updated list.
If you are buying bitcoin as an investment you can sell them back to brokers at a later date – hopefully at a profit.
What is today’s bitcoin price?
Like all currencies, the price fluctuates according to market conditions, and different brokers can charge different rates and fees.
Coindesk.com shows the latest bitcoin price in real time, which you can see in the widget below.
How to buy bitcoin cash
Bitcoin cash is a separate cryptocurrency which forked from the main currency earlier this year.
Websites such as Coinswitch.co will allow you to exchange bitcoin or other altcoins into bitcoin cash.