how to buy cryptocurrency

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This is the fifth of a five-part series on cryptocurrencies as well as their uses benefits for the Second Amendment community. Read part one here. Part two is here. Part three is here. Part four is here. 

By Rob McNealy

Buying cryptocurrencies can be a major challenge, especially for Americans. I will explain some of the reasons why and help walk you through the process.

AML and KYC Laws

One of worst things, privacy wise, that came out of the last Bush Administration was the PATRIOT Act. The PATRIOT Act gave the government all sorts of powers to spy on Americans. Many of those regulations are still in force and affect all Americans today.

AML stands for anti-money laundering and describes processes designed to fight the flow of illegally acquired money back into the financial system. As part of their federally mandated compliance requirements, financial institutions are required to implement several data gathering and reporting procedures aimed at preventing money laundering.

A key part of AML is Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements. KYC compels financial institutions to collect and retain all sorts of personal data about their customers just to do business with them.

The regulations mandate that people opening bank accounts, getting mortgages, opening crypto accounts, or even 401Ks and IRAs, need to present, as a minimum, a government-issued ID, current address, and social security number. That data is then checked against various anti-terrorist and sanctions-related databases to make sure you aren’t a bad guy. Land of the free?

That means in order to buy crypto and withdraw it from regulated, US exchanges, you’ll need to verify your identity to comply with these regulations by providing a photo of your ID and sometimes a photograph of yourself or copies of bills or other mail to verify your address. Identity verification can take some time, especially when crypto markets are hot, so plan accordingly.

Crypto Trackers

Every cryptocurrency has a ticker symbol just like stocks and mutual funds do, which allow you to follow the price and trade volume on tracking sites. For example, Bitcoin’s ticker symbol is BTC. The ticker for TUSC, is well, TUSC and the symbol for Ethereum is ETH.

Various crypto tracker websites exist which allow you to learn about cryptocurrencies, track prices, and identify where specific coins or tokens are being traded. Nomics, Coin Paprika and Coin Market Cap are some of the largest and most up to date.

These trackers offer calculators and tools to help you calculate cryptocurrency values in dollars or other fiat currencies in real time. They also provide links to official websites and social media channels for crypto projects, which is helpful in identifying copycats and avoiding scams.

Centralized Exchanges and DEXes

Unless you know someone interested in selling you crypto directly for cash, you can purchase cryptocurrencies on centralized or decentralized exchanges (DEXes). If you’re just starting out in crypto, you’ll need to get dollars into the system through a centralized exchange like OKCoin, Coinbase or Gemini which accepts deposits using ACH, credit cards, or wire transfers.

These exchanges have a centralized owner which verifies accounts and provides customer service. Once you deposit cash, depending on the exchange and deposit method, there may be a waiting period before your transaction clears, and you can buy or move your crypto.

Once your crypto is available in an account, you have a few options:

  1. You can trade it for other popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum.
  2. You can withdraw it your own wallet for safe keeping.
  3. You can withdraw it and send it to another exchange like Bololex to buy smaller market cap tokens and coins too small to be listed on American exchanges, like TUSC.

Unlike centralized exchanges, DEXes offer trading without a middleman by using smart contracts or other technology to govern sales. They allow more freedom and ability to get in early on newer tokens, but they tend to be riskier and less user friendly.

Fiat vs Crypto Swaps

Major cryptocurrencies can be purchased with dollars, but most cryptocurrencies can only be obtained by swapping or trading one cryptocurrency for another. In addition to exchanges, tools like Pancake Swap and Uniswap facilitate swapping one token for another on the same blockchain. This is similar to trading on a DEX, except there is no order book. Instead, you swap for the current exchange rate between two tokens or a token and a coin.

American vs. Foreign Exchanges

American exchanges tend to have a smaller variety of coins and tokens than foreign exchanges due to US securities laws. Foreign exchanges can be an easy way to trade for newer, smaller value cryptocurrencies like TUSC.

However, many foreign exchanges have banned US traders due to concerns over US law enforcement. Check terms of service and identity verification requirements before depositing any cryptocurrency on a foreign exchange, as you may not be able to withdraw if they ban US users.


This is the fifth of a five-part series on cryptocurrencies as well as their uses benefits for the Second Amendment community. Read part one here. Part two is here. Part three is here. Part four is here. 

Rob McNealy is an entrepreneur, 2A supporter and co-founder of TUSC, a 2A-friendly crypto payments and NFT project, and Krappy Art, an NFT and digital art collective. Rob lives in the Salt Lake City area with his wife, four kids and their ferocious guard doodle. You can listen to his podcast or follow him on Minds and Twitter.

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