How to buy Bitcoin in Hawaii
Bitcoin is something else. When Aunty first heard about it, it was not for real. Some made up internet money that was generated by computer power that took up a lot of electricity and buying it involved a lot of steps and verification in places that were new and unproven. And how could a regular person like Aunty with very little techno skills buy it?
Well, the easiest way was to open an account with Coinbase, but they pulled out of Hawaii in a hurry after our State regulators got too strict. After that, it became very difficult to buy bitcoin in Hawaii, and the tax bite on profits were quite high since it was considered to be “property”.
Using IRA money
Aunty used existing Roth IRA funds, transferring monies into an account with BitCoinIRA.com. VERY high initial fees, long processing times, limited trading times, and delays in orders being taken and recorded. It takes patience and is a bit complicated for things to get rolling, but it has been the best thing that Aunty has done last year because of the price movement of Bitcoin, and the zero tax status of using Roth IRA money in a Roth IRA account.
Matthew@BitcoinIRA.com was super helpful and had to answer Aunty’s many questions. It is almost like there are 3 layers of transactions – Kingdom Trust being the custodian of the account, BitcoinIRA being the sales/mediator, and Bitgo being the wallet that changes dollars to digital currencies and back again.
Once the money is deposited into the Kingdom Trust custodial account, the fun begins. Purchasing choices are the digital currencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, or Ripple. A call to BitcoinIRA starts the buying (or selling) process, then a confirmation call from Bitgo, and then in a few days, the transaction shows up on the Kingdom Trust account. This can take over a week. However, profit potential is huge because of the way these digital currencies move swiftly and spectacularly. Some people like to just hold on for the ride. Aunty likes to sell and buy, sell and buy. Sometimes it works out, sometimes Aunty sells too soon. But such is life and Aunty’s results have been pretty good.
Using a familiar broker, like Ameritrade
The easiest way to invest in Bitcoin is in a “stock” symbol GBTC. Anyone with a trading account (Ameritrade, ETrade, Schwab, etc.) can buy GBTC at its market price, which had a tremendous ride last year, going from $100 to over $3,000 in a matter of months. One share in GBTC represents .09 BTC, just under one tenth of a Bitcoin, held in trust. It is something like an ETF (Exchange Traded Fund), but not really.
The market price of GBTC is quite a bit higher than the actual value of .09 BTC, which is why Aunty hadn’t bought into it BUT a 91 t0 1 split will soon be taking place, for those that have GBTC in their portfolio on January 22, 2018.
When this happens, each share of GBTC will be worth about 1/1000 BTC, so the price will be less per share and much more affordable for the average investor. Instead of $2,000 per share, the split will shatter the old GBTC into 91 smaller pieces of .001 BTC that cost $20 per share if the market value of actual Bitcoin is at today’s pricing.
It will be an interesting split, that Aunty will want to be a part of. To do this today will cost about $2,000 each – maybe more, maybe less, depending on what the market is for the day. If that is too steep for you, wait for the split, and the cost per share will go down to ~$20 or so.
Opening a wallet of digital currency
Bitcoin now has more of a legitimate status nowadays. Some businesses accept payment in Bitcoin (Aunty saw a sign in the Aloha Crepes window in Kaimuki “bitcoin accepted here!”) You will be able to pay for your new Tesla car with Bitcoin. Because it is a digital currency with no ties to a bank, a digital currency wallet is necessary to transfer Bitcoin in or out as well as convert to or from US dollars.
Opening and funding a wallet is very difficult, especially in Hawaii, but it is doable. There are several wallet companies, but only a few that will accept us Hawaii people. Aunty was finally successful with Abra, an online app on Aunty’s iPhone that can convert dollars and store Bitcoin, as well as send out fractions of Bitcoin to other wallets for products or services. A small problem with Abra is that NONE of the Hawaii banks are acceptable for funds transfers, so you must have and get verification in a mainland bank account such as Wells Fargo, Citi Bank, Bank of America, etc. You can only fund a limited number of dollars at a time, so it will take awhile to have a substantial wallet account, but a fraction of a Bitcoin today is better than none, in Aunty’s opinion.
You can also fund Abra with your American Express card but that comes with very very high fees, so your best option is to open a mainland bank account so you can use it with your Abra account.
If you are willing and have the patience to open an Abra account, congratulations! It will be worth the effort. Just be sure to write down your security “phrase”, word by word, in order, and complete each step. Keep that in a safe place that only you have access to. Your Abra “address” is a very long account number of upper and lower case letters with numbers. This must be entered exactly as it reads, or one can use the QR code associated with the account.
Since this will NOT be an IRA or retirement account, your gains on crypto currencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, etc.) are subject to taxation, so every transaction must be recorded for your account. Especially your cost basis – what you initially buy Bitcoin for, and all subsequent buy/sell activities.
Spending Bitcoin transactions such as buying a cup of coffee at Starbucks must also be recorded, because spending Bitcoin is the same as doing a withdrawal or sale.
Using a wallet
Aunty used her Abra wallet to purchase USI-tech BTC packages. This was an investment with daily payouts based on number of packages purchased. However, USI-tech has recently halted its business side – the multilevel marketing side of signing up new people, and the purchase of more BTC packages. What will happen to Aunty’s existing account is still up in the air, but, like any other investment, the risk was limited to what Aunty could afford to lose without losing sleep.
If and when the dust settles at USI-tech, the Abra wallet will be utilized to withdraw Bitcoin from USI-tech, converted into US dollars, then transferred to a bank account.
It IS a huge learning curve, and this is just a small view from Aunty’s perspective and experience. However, once you get used to it, you will love it because of the roller coaster ride into uncharted territories.
Aunty likes checking on her Bitcoin accounts with a free online app called Blockfolio. This is an app that you add the digital currencies that you are interested in, or it can act like your own personal portfolio tracker by entering the number and price of your Bitcoin/Ethereum/etc. purchases.
Another way to follow the digital currency movements is with CoinGecko. This website shows the most active digital currencies with links to price charts and info on each. There are over 1000 different digital currencies that CoinGecko tracks with very up to the date prices.
CoinDesk is where the latest news, buzz, and opinions from various digital currency writers abound. This site also has tutorials on what is Bitcoin, how it works, etc.
Aunty first decided to test the waters because of Teeka Tiwari of the Palm Beach Research Group. His passion and belief in digital currencies is contagious, so kudos to him for his lessons and recommendations. His advice is, even if you don’t subscribe to his service (quite expensive), buy a little bitcoin, even if only $100.
Aunty also says Buy Buy Buy!
But only invest what you can afford to lose.
For the average person, the hoops, verifications and requirements of establishing a digital currency wallet and custodian are overwhelming, and so, the simplest and most familiar way would be to buy GBTC with one’s stock account (i.e. Ameritrade). Today’s price is around $2,000, but it will drop substantially after the 91 to 1 stock split on January 22.
Buying with Roth IRA money in BitCoinIRA is having the best of all possibilities because of the no tax on profits, with no reporting necessary. The drawbacks are that it is a slow process to get going and the need to call in trades and wait for transactions to clear. So far, BitcoinIRA it is the only game in town that handles IRA funds in ways that will comply with IRS regulations, so it IS the one.
The beauty and wisdom of a Roth IRA and growing up
Aunty once did a post on opening a Checkbook IRA. That post is the cornerstone of Aunty’s legacy, and hopefully taken to heart by Aunty’s readers, young and old.
The Roth IRA is a gift from the government, but only if it is opened, funded, and used for growth. Aunty never thought she would be old – until she was called “Aunty” by some young kid on the bus. From that point, there was no turning back.
Other than having a younger body, Aunty wouldn’t want to turn back. She would lose her Ross Stores senior discount on Tuesdays and the long awaited Zippy’s Senior Discount card! Life is shorter, but better now.