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Step-by-step guide to buy and sell bitcoin

Bitcoin goes mainstream
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Bitcoin goes mainstream

Alexander says he learned about bitcoin in October 2012. At the time, there were few places that accepted bitcoins.

"We made people realize that you can use (bitcoins) to buy something quickly," he says. "There is still a lot to be desired in ease of use for the everyday consumer."

Forbes' Hill tried in May 2013 to live on bitcoin for a week. She survived but struggled, having to cope without coffee during that time and even having to change apartments because her landlord at the time wouldn't accept payment in bitcoins.

A year later, Hill redid her experiment. It's still tough to live on bitcoins, but it's a little easier now that more companies accept the cryptocurrency.

"It's not designed to be used the way I'm using it," Hill says. "There are many places in the world where it will be very difficult to live on bitcoins."

Hill says one exciting part of bitcoin is that it bucks the traditional payments system.

She says bitcoin allows users to circumvent third-party intermediaries such as banks, PayPal, MoneyGram or Western Union that could slow down transfers or add fees. And, it provides an opportunity for transactions to be more secure and private.

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