U.S. Markets closed

How to Buy Bitcoin in Russia?

Colin First

It is not very easy to buy or possess Bitcoin in Russia as the government has been going back and forth over this issue. Although the use of cryptocurrency was legitimised in 2016, this year the government decided to reverse the decision. It is difficult to understand this love-hate relationship between the Russians and Bitcoins.

However, there is a recourse left to aficionados of crypto-currencies. It is known as contracts for difference or CFDs, which allow people to trade movements in the value of Bitcoin, without having to own them. This could be beneficial as one does not need to worry about security issues such as downloading back-up, encrypting one’s wallet, etc. Traders have the option of speculating and making money off Bitcoin without needing to store their crypto-currencies safely.

One of the better-known CFD brokers where traders can trade Bitcoin CFD is Libertex. To trade bitcoins with CFDs, one has to choose their currency pairing, just like any other form of currency. For instance, if one chooses to pair CFD with Russian Roubles, the XBT/RUB for one month in 2017 would be close to 450,000 roubles. (Apart from BTC, bitcoin’s abbreviation can also be written as XBT).

What is Bitcoin?

Before moving ahead, we should familiarize ourselves with what exactly is Bitcoin. It is a form of digital currency which was created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto; whose identity remains a secret. Bitcoin offers lower transaction fees than traditional online payment mechanisms and is completely autonomous. Today’s market cap for all Bitcoin (abbreviation BTC or XBT) in circulation exceeds $150 billion.

There are no physical Bitcoins, only balances kept on a ledger in the cloud which along with Bitcoin transactions is verified with the help of excessive computing power. Despite this digital crypto-currency not being strictly legal tender, it still ranks high on popularity charts. Such is the popularity, that several countries have approved the currency.

Balances are kept using public and private keys which are long strings of number and letters linked through the math encryption algorithm that was used to create them. The public key serves as an address to which people can send bitcoin to the user. The private key (similar to an ATM PIN) should be kept a secret. A loss of the private key means that the access to the wallet is lost forever and any bitcoins stored in the wallet will also be lost. Considering the high prices of bitcoins these days, it is likely to be a large loss as far as the fund size is concerned and hence definitely something that traders, investors and all Bitcoin’s holders need to keep in mind.

How to Trade Bitcoin in 3 Easy Steps

Trading bitcoin and Bitcoin cash are simple, even for an amateur trader. Bitcoin is highly volatile which makes it perfect for CFD trading. Traders can trade one of their chosen brokers who have BTC on their platform and open an account with them to start buying and selling.

Traders should choose carefully between buying the CFDs at brokers and buying the actual bitcoin at exchanges. Buying bitcoins at exchanges ensures that the bitcoin gets delivered to the wallet of the trader. The trader can then use this bitcoin to trade off or can use it to send payments to others. On the other hand, the buying of the CFD of bitcoin only helps to speculate on the volatility of the bitcoin prices and does not lead to physical delivery of the bitcoin. Thus, those who have bought bitcoin CFDs do not need a wallet and they cannot send the bitcoins to anyone else later.

Both of these methods of bitcoin purchase are available in Russia at this point of time though, after the withdrawal of support to BTC from the Russian government, all these brokers and exchanges operate in a covert manner over there.

One of the top leading brokers, providing cryptocurrencies trading, is Libertex. The broker provides buying and selling of cryptocurrencies and offers cryptocurrencies pairs trading. For example BTC/ETH, LTC/BTC. Below is a complete guide to buying Bitcoin via Libertex in 3 steps:

Step 1 – Open an Account

To open an account with Libertex is a simple process. Click here to proceed.

Libertex Bitcoin 1

Step 2 – Fund your Account

Once you enter Libertex‘s trading platform, you will be able to see the quotes, charts, and trade the available instruments. In the upper right corner, click the button to fund your account.

libertex 2

Here you can fund your account with various payment methods such as credit card, Skrill, Neteller, WebMoney, etc.

Libertex - Fund Acct 4

Step 3 – Buy and Sell Bitcoin

Now you can choose Bitcoin as your preferred instrument and click on the trade button. You can choose the size of the position and the amount you wish to invest.

Libertex Bitcoin Trade 3

Buying and Selling Bitcoin in Russia via Exchanges

In a surprising move last year, Russia took a liberal approach to not criminalize mining, buying and selling bitcoins. The cryptocurrency community in the country had started taking steps to promote the use of bitcoin since that period. In August last year, Moscow set up the first offline bitcoin exchange.

Buy and sell bitcoin anywhere around the world comes with their own set of rules and regulations and it is the same in Russia. Here, one could buy bitcoin through cash, credit/debit card, wire transfer as well as PayPal. There were many different exchanges that facilitate to buy and sell. There are a few exchanges that used to support cryptocurrencies in Russia such as CEO.IX, Coin Cafe (a New York-based exchange), Brawker, HitBTC.com, and so on.

CEO.IX is a well know exchange that supports clients from Russia. These are the steps in order to purchase Bitcoin via CEX.IO.

Step 1 – Open a Digital Wallet

A digital wallet is where you hold your cryptocurrencies and interacts others via the blockchain technology. There are many providers of digital wallets, however, it is important to make a deep research before you decide which one is the best for you. Currently, the most popular digital wallets provider is Blockchain.info.

Step 2 – Register & Open an Account

Once you enter CEX.IO website, register and open an account that can provide you with their service.

CEX.IO Login

Step 3 – Receive the 2FA Code

This is the authentication code as well as your password when you access CEX.IO.  The code will be generated by an application and will be delivered to you by SMS.

CEX.IO F2A Code

Step 4 – Purchase Bitcoin

Now you can easily purchase Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Note that you can always buy fractions of Bitcoin and CEX.IO allows you to choose fixed amounts with your own currency.

CEX.IO – Buy Bitcoin

Choose the payment option that is most convenient for you.

CEX.IO Payment

In order to complete the purchase, the broker will ask you to verify your identity with documents and various details.

CEX.IO Verification

Bitcoin Exchanges in Russia

Elaborating on bitcoin exchanges in Russia, here are some pros and cons to investing in Russian exchanges. They are listed below:

  • Coin Mama– CoinMama allows customers from every country to buy bitcoin with either credit or debit card and levy 6% charge on every transaction. The advantages of investing with CoinMama is that it is accessible in most countries around the world, highest limits for buying bitcoin with a credit card and is a reliable and trusted broker. The downside is that it charges very high fees among credit and debit cardholders.
  • LocalBitcoins- This is an escrow service that helps match bitcoin buyers and sellers. The most common method of payment is cash deposit. Users can also advertise for whichever method of payment they prefer. The pros for using this exchange are: it is easy to use and private, inter-personal trades do not require personal information. The con is that one cannot buy a large number of bitcoins, as compared to other large exchanges.
  • Matbea- This is a bitcoin exchange based in Russia and one can fund his/her account by cash deposit or bank transfer. The upside of trading with Matbea, it is one of the few Bitcoin exchanges in Russia and there are many ways to deposit funds. The downside is that the exchange does not offer prices close to the market price and consequently, traders receive less value on their bitcoins.
  • Mycelium Local Trader- This exchange helps one find local bitcoin sellers. Once a seller is located, one can meet up in person and complete the transaction. The best part about Mycelium is that it charges absolutely no fees. While the exchange is great for high-density areas, people in low-density areas may face obstacles and may not find sellers.

Where can I use Bitcoin in Russia?

As of 2017, using bitcoin in Russia has been a contentious issue after current President of Russia Vladimir Putin banned it. Echoing Putin’s sentiments, the Deputy Finance Minister of Russia Alexei Moiseev also stated that “bitcoin settlements in Russia will not be legalized.” The central bank also added that Bitcoin cannot be used as an alternative payment option. So, as of now, it looks as though the Russian government has clearly set its mind not to approve the use of bitcoins anytime in the short or medium term.

Due to the unclear legal situation, there are only a few exchanges and brokers that exist. Many people prefer trading with localBitcoins. BTC-E is one of the major exchanges to trade Rubel and bitcoin. It works with a variety of payment providers to permit depositing of funds.

As the government continues to stand divided on the issue of crypto-currency, some places have started looking at bitcoin as an acceptable payment option. Parting from tradition, restaurants such as Valenok and Vintage 77 in Moscow even started accepting bitcoin as a payment option.

Another sign of changing times is the fact that many Russian universities are also offering courses on crypto-currencies. The courses will be incorporated into the schools’ programs in the academic year 2017-18. Some of these universities are Moscow State University, Higher School of Economics, The Saint Petersburg State University of Economics, etc.

Bitcoin ATMs in Russia

Despite Russian government partially banning cryptocurrencies in the country, some exchanges continue to thrive, nonetheless. For instance, Russia-based InvestCoin24 will oversee the installation of Bitcoin ATMs in Moscow.

The project had modest beginnings when an ATM popped up in St. Petersburg. This ATM allowed users to buy bitcoin for a 4% fee. The machine was operated by crypto-currency exchange Bitlish and provides Bitcoin, Ethereum, LiteCoin, among others. The machine is located at a shopping center, on the Vasilevsky Island.

Now, there are 100 ATMs scheduled to be set up in Moscow by the end of 2017.

Previously, InvestCoin24 had installed one in Moscow as a dry run. Now, the company is planning to collaborate with airport owners to set up ATMs in the departure and arrival terminals which will give access to cryptocurrencies to those leaving and entering the country.

The company said they are relying on their own funds to get the project running, without the help of any external funding.

Earlier this year, Russian startup CoinSpot had apparently brought one of the first bitcoin ATMs to Moscow.

Another encouraging sign that crypto-currencies are the next big thing in Russia was that Russia’s third most populated city Novosibirsk saw 10 bitcoin ATMs installed by a local startup. The practice of installing ATMs in different cities in Russia has been growing day by day but as of today, the government does not seem to have taken any action against these as yet.

Most of the terminals are located in stores selling bottled beverages. The initial plan was to set them up in the city’s high-end shopping malls, but the rents were high. It took three months to develop the software operating the machines and the machine will levy a charge of 6% on each transaction. It is indeed a costly way to buy bitcoins but considering the volatility that we have been seeing in the Bitcoin prices, many of the Russians still believe that it is a good way to trade this instrument and apart from using it as a method of payment across borders, they also use this to speculate on the prices of bitcoin so that they could make some quick profit on the Bitcoin’s price movements which seem to be headed only one way of late.

A local Russian daily stated that by the end of 2017, there will be around 100 one-way crypto-currency ATMs that will dot Moscow. Apart from airports, InvestCoin24 will install some terminals in hotels to make sure Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrencies are accessible to whoever seeks them.

Conclusion

Although there is a lot of confusion surrounding Russia’s flip-flop on legitimizing crypto-currencies followed by banning it, the citizens of the country seem to be headed another way. With start-ups facilitating import of bitcoin ATMs and restaurants and hotels accepting bitcoin as payment, the tide seems to be turning. Bitcoin is an innovative form of payment and the rest of the world seems to agree on that count. There is a slight possibility that the government may pay attention to what people actually want and pass laws that will favor crypto-currencies.

Till that time, the citizens of Russia have to fend for themselves as far as bitcoins are concerned through the exchanges that operate in a covert manner and also through the use of ATMs that are currently installed in various cities. It remains to be seen how long it would take for the government to come after such exchanges and ATMs but while the ATMs might be easily tracked and controlled, it might be an impossible challenge to track the online exchanges and ensure that no such buying and selling of bitcoins happens through these exchanges in Russia. Until that time, the business of buying bitcoins in Russia is likely to thrive.

This article was originally posted on FX Empire

More From FXEMPIRE: