One of the easiest ways to buy and sell common crypto currencies like bitcoin, is by direct trade. As with most cases of buying and selling crypto, you will have to undergo a thorough identity verification in order to do direct trading. After registering, you can post an offer to buy or sell, and the website that you choose to use will notify you when someone wants to trade with you.
The most common way that people buy and sell crypto is through an exchange. After verifying your identity, you can buy or sell tokens with either bitcoin or fiat currency, in most cases. Exchanges act as third party intermediaries, who hold everyone’s funds together in pools. Often exchanges are linked to users bank accounts, and payments are withdrawn or deposited directly to the user’s bank account. Many exchanges also have a wallet feature inside of them where your funds are “manages”. It is important to note that as long as your funds are in a managed wallet (i.e. on many exchanges), you do not have the private key and so they are not really your coins.
Exchanges have proven quite problematic due to many incidents lately in which large amounts of user funds have been lost when major exchanges have been hacked or stolen funds. In order for crypto to have any real liquidity, however, trading on exchanges is a necessity and an integral part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Users should exercise caution, and never keep too much on any one exchange for too long.
A new form of acquiring bitcoin is termed peer-to-peer trading. In these marketplaces, users with particular requests are matched in order to accommodate bitcoin purchases with credit card and purchases of goods over the internet with bitcoin simultaneously. In this scenario, customer x wants to buy bitcoin with a credit card, and customer y wants to buy items off an online e-store with bitcoin. Once customer y has received their goods from customer x (who paid with credit card), they alert the marketplace and the bitcoin is instantly transferred.
Of course, if someone you know has bitcoin they want to sell, or you know someone who wants to buy some bitcoin off you, the easiest and safest way would be to just transfer them the bitcoin in person (scan QR code) and receive cash for the payment. In-person trades serve to cut out the financial middlemen, reducing transaction fees and minimising risks associated with hackers and exchanges.