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Step-by-step guide to buy and sell bitcoin

Bitcoin mechanics: Simple or complex?
The mechanics of bitcoin: Simple or complex? | Computer workspace: © Max Griboedov/Shutterstock.com

Bitcoin mechanics: Simple or complex?

Bitcoin is virtual and has no physical form. When you see pictures of them, those are circular pieces of metal with a bitcoin address printed on them and a private hidden key inside. They are minted by a guy in Utah and are just for show.

To be sure, the mechanics of real bitcoin can get complicated quickly, but sites like Coinbase aim to make transactions simpler for buyers and sellers.

Indeed, transferring bitcoin was surprisingly easy, given how complicated the process has been described in the media. If anything, moving bitcoin into or out of your wallet is a bit like sending an email.

To send someone bitcoin, you need their bitcoin address -- a string of letters and numbers. Similarly, if you want someone to send you a bitcoin, you share your address with them. They also can get your address by scanning the QR code with their smartphone.

Here's an example of a bitcoin address: 17romgjnsF5sGU3YkddAtjdYoNjmy33qYR

If you take that address to a site called Blockchain.info, you can see that I used it to transfer the 0.1 bitcoin from LocalBitcoins and the 0.02967667 bitcoin from Tinkercoin into my wallet on Coinbase.

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