Most people prefer to handle their Bitcoin work strictly online, but the real labors of cryptocurrency are still handled person to person. I’ve had the chance to be around several Bitcoin deals in real life, and I think a person must have a basic understanding of what is about to happen when a trade occurs.
1. You’re going to wait for confirmation. It’s just a good plan to try to be comfortable for around 10 minutes while you wait for the Bitcoin network to confirm your transaction. I don’t let people leave with my stuff until the Bitcoin they sent me has one confirmation. If they want to go before their Bitcoin has a confirmation… No biggie because I trust myself and the Bitcoin network.
Third-party automated escrow services can help speed this up since the coins are already confirmed on the escrow service.
2. Location Location Location. Location is key. You should pick somewhere comfortable to sit for at least 10 minutes. It would be best to choose somewhere public, but not so public a bad guy could easily blend in. My preferred meeting place was at the bottom of a building in SF on Beale Street next to the bus station, and I would then either conduct the deal on the 5th floor beautiful outdoor area, the conference room on the 5th floor, or an apt on the 13th floor. Starbucks is OK; banks are OK. Your building with a buzz in / buzz out + 24-hour employees is by far the most comfortable way for everyone I’ve found! 😛
3. Have a second person. Have someone close by that knows you’re meeting a stranger from online. It’s normal these days. Anyone with a cell phone will do.
4. Don’t be a fucking weird! If anything feels bad… bail. No amount of money is worth fucking with certain things. If anyone for any reason strikes you as weird… fucking bail. Don’t talk to them, don’t trade with them, don’t do shit with them. Ask them to leave, and that’s it. No one tells you their life story when you’re making a trade; that’s a huge red flag. If a biker gang flashes a gun, that’s a red flag. If someone says they are buying or using Bitcoin for or with *fill in the blank* illegal activity, that’s a red flag. A woman explaining why she needs Bitcoin to advertise this or that, that’s a red flag. Etc. I always clarify that I respect their privacy, and I’d rather not discuss their purpose or whatnot because it’s none of my business.
5. Do not structure cash. Don’t try to be a Wizz kid trying to “avoid the system” by breaking buys apart for buyers to deposit into multiple banks. That shit gives people a reason to jam you up. If you’re making big boy transactions, then you should likely be making big boy deposits. If your location is so brutal that this is a problem… change your location. Not all banks are created equally, and poor people generally treat poor people the worst.
6. Never assume anything is for anything naughty… if you assume, you shouldn’t have done it in the first place. Never assume anything. The vast majority of people are good. We can’t treat everyone like shit just because of one or two bad apples. Carry this mentality over to your trading. However, if someone gives you a reason to think otherwise, you should stop the trade immediately.
Trading for Bitcoin in person is an enjoyable experience and comes with many benefits if done properly. For example, You know you aren’t getting Man-In-The-Middle attacked with a money wire. You can see the person with the cash in hand and feel good that it isn’t someone’s grandma being fooled.
Just be careful, be aware, and always be ready to say “No thank you.”