I understand how difficult it can be for some of you to buy Bitcoins if you don’t live in developed nations. There is a frequent suspension of services by prominent exchanges of the world when the demand surges for Bitcoin.
That’s why it makes sense talking about an alternative service through which one can buy Bitcoins peer-to-peer anytime.
The name of this service is LocalBitcoins (aka LBC).
More so is the issue faced by people in third world countries where there is less to no banking support. These people often get deprived and neglected by the crypto revolution amidst which we are.
But today we are discussing a service that goes beyond all these barriers and makes it easy for anyone to buy/sell BTC irrespective of where they live or what they have.
Let me start by introducing the company and its history.
What Is LocalBitcoins
LocalBitcoin is a peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchange that keeps bitcoins in its escrow. It has been operating from Finland since 2010.
Moreover, using this service one can trade in bitcoins in more than 16000 cities and 248 countries around the world, which is huge.
The best thing about LocalBitcoins is that you deal with the buyers/sellers directly and decide to trade only if you are satisfied with the terms of the trade. Once you engage in a trade you can receive your fiat money in the agreed way through a bank deposit, PayPal, Payoneer, or in cash. And when it comes to receiving your bitcoins LocalBitcoins act as an escrow in between so that you don’t get cheated.
Still thinking why to use LBC?
Well, there are plenty of reasons to use this service. We will talk about those in this review, but two most important ones are – one, it is peer to peer, and second, it has more than 35 payment options.
How to start using LocalBitcoins?
Getting started on LocalBitcoin is pretty straightforward.
In earlier days on LBC, you could have traded BTC anonymously or through an alias account, but from April 2018 this has changed as it has started requiring KYC.
For now, you need to register yourself using your e-mail ID and get your KYC done by uploading your identity verification documents like passport, driving license or national ID proofs, failing which you have to give up trading on LocalBitcoins.
This is because LBC is now regularly pulling out huge volumes of trade and this has called for the KYC step.
However, it is a good thing because this means you will never face liquidity problems which was common earlier.
Signing up and logging in to LocalBitcoins is very easy.
You just need to register yourself using your e-mail ID and get started.
After you register and log in to LocalBitcoins, it is always a good practice to complete your profile (except if you wish to be anonymous). Completion of the profile is needed by some traders as a condition, so if you don’t do this you will not be able to trade with traders who require a basic KYC.
But recently in April 2018, LocalBitcoins have started urging customers who have had a significant volume of trading in last few months to get themselves verified and this is to stop illegal laundering of money and in some countries like the US, this is mandatory.
So if you are looking at LocalBitcoins as KYC-less exchange then you might be wrong!!
Searching Traders On LocalBitcoins
You can filter out ‘Buy’ and ‘Sell’ trades and traders by selecting your preferred country and the payment method (will talk about this later).
Similarly, you can apply the same filter on the ‘sell’ side and find out the relevant trade.
Now, let us say you want to ‘Buy’, so you will look for ‘Sellers’ and this is how the trade details put by a seller will look like:
Check the trade details/conditions and always look out for more feedback score. Anything over 90% is a good trader to trade with.
LocalBitcoins Payment Methods & Fees
You can also put one more criterion while filtering out traders on LocalBitcoins, that of payment method i.e. your preferred payment method to receive fiat if you are a seller and to pay fiat if you are a buyer.
Here, I have filtered out this trader based on two criteria i.e. country and payment type. Similarly, you can filter traders if you want to sell Bitcoin.
Some other popular payment filters through which you can find your traders are:
The fee structure is quite nominal on LBC. Registering, buying, and selling Bitcoins is completely free. LocalBitcoins users who create advertisements are charged a 1% fee for every completed trade.
Note: Transactions to wallets of other LocalBitcoins users are free.
P2P Marketplaces for Bitcoins
As stated earlier, LocalBitcoin is a P2P marketplace for BTC.
You can also think of it as an eBay for bitcoins but stick around to see it for yourself why I am saying so. In this review section, I am going to highlight some of the USPs of LBC.
And later on, I am going to share our experience of using it, and what more we are looking for in LBC.
Let’s get started.
1. Easily Search For Buyers/Sellers
See this introductory video on how to buy/sell bitcoins on LocalBitcoins.
Go to relevant ‘Quick Buy’ and ‘Quick Sell’ section and select your country and payment method (we will talk about this later in detail).
Similarly, you can apply the same filter on the ‘sell’ side and find out the relevant trade.
And in this preview, you can see the buyers and sellers list in the above and below image.
2. Review Buyers/Sellers Easily on LocalBitcoins
Once you have seen the buyers and sellers list, filter out reliable buyers and sellers according to their reputation. The reputation can be seen in brackets against the name of seller and buyer in this form (30+, 100%).
This is how you will see the trade and seller/buyer details on clicking the deal. You can vouch for feedback score of anything above 90% and confirmed number of trades above 20.
At least this is how I narrow down my trades and seller/buyers, and it has worked well for me.
3. Explore The Plethora Of Payment Options
Another excellent feature of LBC is you can use their variety of payment options. On LocalBitcoins, one can buy BTC in the following ways:
- Buy BTC for cash
- Buy BTC from prepaid cards
- Buy BTC from wire transfers
- Buy BTC from payment gateways
- Buy BTC for gift cards
- Buy BTC for other cryptocurrencies
4. Escrow Your Bitcoin Trade Always
All online trades on LocalBitcoins are escrow protected.
Meaning, when trade begins, the amount of bitcoins for the deal is automatically reserved from the seller’s LocalBitcoins wallet.
This means that if the seller runs away with your money and does not release your Bitcoins, LocalBitcoins.com support can release the Bitcoins to you from escrow.
On this note, if you’re selling Bitcoins, never release the escrow before you know that you have received money from the Bitcoin buyer.
Also, note that local trades do not have escrow enabled by default, but when you request and get in the trade, it gets activated. (Source: LocalBitcoins.com)
5. Give Feedback For The Deal
When you indulge in a trade, the option to give feedback about the seller and buyer gets activated.
You can use these feedback scores to rate your trade experience with a particular trader and help LocalBitcoins preserve that rating for future.
In this way, with each trade, you are making LBC a better and more secure platform. And for this, there are four types of ratings or feedback one can give on LocalBitcoins based on their experience of trade.
- Block without feedback
This score also decides whether the trader will be listed on the top or at the bottom.
6. How much are LocalBitcoins Fees?
I was quite impressed with their fee model as registering, buying, and selling is entirely free. While creating an advertisement, the users who develop ads are charged 1% for every completed trade.
And another cool thing is that while transferring BTC to wallets of other LocalBitcoin users the transaction fee charged is zero. Basically, you can do free transactions to and from LocalBitcoin user’s wallets.
7. How is the Customer Support of LocalBitcoins?
In my case, the LBC support team has been rather quick.
Their support team is reachable on emails and replies within three days. But in events when Bitcoin trend is surging, their support comes under tremendous pressure due to which the response gets slightly delayed.
But in that case too, their support is useful, and their frequent issues section is also very helpful in raising tickets.
Whom Is LocalBitcoins For?
LocalBitcoin is for anyone who:
- Wants to get started in BTC and buy their first BTC
- Want to buy BTC in cash or any other payment method
- Wants to make a career in trading
- Wants to convert other currencies in BTC
- Wants to sell BTC for cash
- Wants to trade BTC with an escrowed service
- Want to avoid banking system and live on crypto, etc
Is Localbitcoins safe to use?
The short answer is, Yes.
We have used it, and we rate it highly as a go-to service for people who want to buy Bitcoin in cash in any other third world countries where the banking infrastructure is not as supportive.
However, there are certain things to note and caution while using LBC and here are those:
- Thoroughly check the terms of the trade while dealing in BTC on LBC.
- If you are a seller, never release the escrow manually before you have checked and received your money with you in your bank or your hands.
- If you are a buyer, wait for at least six confirmations before considering the BTC transaction successful. This can take up to an hour.
- If you are dealing in huge volumes, it is advisable to meet the buyer/seller in a public place.
- Always stick to communication on the LocalBitcoins platform itself so that in case of any dispute it can be used as proof. Avoid using WhatsApp or Facebook for communication.
Some other points that you need to take care are:
- Check the trader’s trust score or feedback score. The higher the score the better it is to trade with that trader.
- Also, check if a trader has done more than 20 trades. It is quite safe to trade with that trader as he/she is not a newbie.
- Always stick to communication on the LocalBitcoins platform itself so that in case of any dispute it can be used as proof.
- Never release the escrow manually before you have checked and received your money with you in your bank or in your hands.
Also, it is best to trade with traders who have a complete profile or you can ask for verification or ID submission for higher amounts before indulging in trade via LocalBitcoins.
If you do these things right, you don’t need to worry about getting scammed.
Plus, LocalBitcoins’ UI is intuitive to navigate which makes it a top contender amongst P2P Bitcoin exchanges.
And lastly, its legitimacy speaks for itself when you see these global volume charts for LocalBitcoin from 2013 and how it has grown:
So go ahead and try out LocalBitcoins for yourself.
Now time to hear from you: Have you used LocalBitcoins yet? If you have, do share your experience with us in the comments below.
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Harsh Agrawal is the Crypto exchanges and bots experts for CoinSutra. He founded CoinSutra in 2016, and one of the industry’s most regarded professional blogger in fintech space.
An award-winning blogger with a track record of 10+ years. He has a background in both finance and technology and holds professional qualifications in Information technology.
An international speaker and author who loves blockchain and crypto world.
After discovering about decentralized finance and with his background of Information technology, he made his mission to help others learn and get started with it via CoinSutra.
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- What Is LocalBitcoins
- How to start using LocalBitcoins?
- P2P Marketplaces for Bitcoins
- Is Localbitcoins safe to use?