Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency, which operates without the oversight of banks and governments. It holds the distinction of being the first-ever cryptocurrency, launched in 2009.
In the words of its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin was created to allow “online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”
Today the entire cryptocurrency market is roughly worth $1.3 trillion, with Bitcoin representing 45% of the market.
While it began life as a payments network, Bitcoin has evolved into an investment asset. Most holders consider BTC to be a store of value, and it’s often referred to as “digital gold.”
Bitcoin transactions are verified by crypto miners via a proof-of-work consensus mechanism, and usually take up to 10 minutes to clear. That’s much slower than many competing cryptocurrencies, to say nothing of conventional payments networks.
Still, Bitcoin is accepted as a form of payment by some online retailers and merchants, such as Amazon, Mastercard and Walmart, to name a few.
How to Buy Bitcoin on a Crypto Exchange
To buy Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency, you’ll need a crypto exchange where buyers and sellers meet to exchange dollars for coins.
There are scores of exchanges out there, but as a beginner, you’ll want to opt for one that balances ease of use with low fees and high security. If you don’t already have an exchange in mind, check out our top picks for the best crypto exchanges.
You can buy BTC on several different crypto exchanges. Here are a few exchanges where you can exchange U.S. dollars for BTC:
Note the terminology of “trading pairs,” such as BTC to Tether (USDT) or USD Coin. In the case of BTC/USDC, bitcoins can be converted into Tether, a stablecoin whose value is pegged to the U.S. dollar. Here are a couple of exchanges that pair BTC to USDC: