Buying crytpo-currency has been challenging in the past for US citizens. Authorities have been aware of the use of crypto-currencies to facilitate crime for some time. In an effort to curb the use of crypto-currencies to enable blackmarket transactions, dodge taxes, and fund terrorism, American authorities began regulating crypto-currency in 2013. Coin exchanges operating in America became subject to the Bank Secrecy Act. Each was required to register as a Money Services Business. These regulations pushed the little guys from the arena. Smaller players like the now defunct BTCquick (which this author used to purchase Bitcoin for around $300 USD [subsequently sold at around $1000 USD]) were unable to meet the heightened regulatory bar.
Fortunately for we yankees, Coinbase was able to jump these regulatory hurdles and continues to operate today. Though there may be other ways for American citizens to convert their USD to ETH or BTC, this author recommends Coinbase. They are old players in a young space. Your USD is FDIC insured while in Coinbase’s trust. Not only that, but your cryptocurrency is also insured, or so their website claims. You’re might be better off keeping your coins in a personal wallet encrypted with a strong password and with multiple backups kept on separate machines, but that carries risks too. Though cryptocurrency was founded on the notion of doing away with trust, I trust Coinbase.
The first objection that arrises in the mind of the new buyer often goes something like this: “Buy Ethereum? With my real dollars? Can’t I mine it for free?” The answer to that question is yes, but that doesn’t mean that you should. First, to qualify my opinion, I can tell you that I mined in 2013 with a dedicated rig with three state-of-the-art graphics cards AND FREE ELECTRICITY. I was able to acquire MANY MORE COINS MUCH MORE RAPIDLY by just buying them. It is my opinion that as an American, it is a poor use of your resources to jump into the mining foray. Mining difficulty, and ultimately rewards, scale pretty much inline with the economic value of each coin. Unless you have a major resource advantage, like control of a large botnet, going the mining route is the slowest route to acquiring Ethereum. As an American, you have an economic advantage over much of the rest of the world. Your paycheck will buy you a lot of Ethereum. And if you feel like you’re in a race, like I do, you’ll want to utilize your advantages and maximize your speed.
So, here’s what you do to buy Ethereum in the US. Go to Coinbase.com. (Full Disclosure: My links to Coinbase are affiliate links. If you use them and put $100 into crypto through Coinbase, we’ll each get $10 in free Bitcoin). Sign up. It will take two days to confirm your bank account. Once you do, you can buy Ethereum very easily through their menu. Unlike some of the other crypto-currency exchanges that have dozens of alt-coins, Coinbase has but a handful. I recommend that you buy just Ethereum, but if you want to try some of the other flavors, you’re in the game now. Remember that all investments and speculations involve risk. Though I think Ethereum is a good buy right now, the market is volatile and I do not have a crystal ball, just faith in the technology and respect for the ideals behind it. It will take one week for your transaction to process entirely, but after you confirm your transaction, your rate will be locked in.
Congratulations! You now own Ethereum. You’re in the game. I encourage you to practice my strategy of holding onto as much of it as you can until the technology proves itself. Then continue to hold it as the technology matures. Then hold it longer because Ethereum is the truth. Good move.