Bitcoin isn’t new. In fact, Wikipedia points to the date of introduction as being January 3, 2009. But still many people have never heard of Bitcoin. And then on the flip side, there are lots of people who know about Bitcoin but have never considered using it. I happen to fit into the latter category, and while I’ve long know what Bitcoin is — I have largely ignored the topic. But a recent episode of “Morgan Spurlock Inside Man” peaked my curiosity enough to look further into the currency and even setup my own Bitcoin wallet.
After browsing the Bitcoin.org website and learning a bit more, I opted to use the wallet from Coinbase Inc., which is simply called Bitcoin Wallet. The setup process was quick and easy, and Coinbase does a really good job of walking even the most novice user through the process. Whether that novice user actually needs a Bitcoin wallet is another story, however if we introduce you to Bitcoin, maybe you’ll introduce a few more. And from there maybe Bitcoin will become a bit more commonplace.
My reason for avoiding Bitcoin was because it always seemed like a separate system — a system that is completely detached from your regular banking. But the Bitcoin Wallet app from Coinbase taught me otherwise. It taught me that it doesn’t have to be entirely separate. Key features for the app include the obvious — being able to buy and sell Bitcoin. The app also allows you to easily send Bitcoin to, or request Bitcoin from another user. The sending and requesting is done using your Bitcoin address and/or a QR code. And novice users shouldn’t worry as the app provides both of those items.
The Coinbase Bitcoin Wallet app opens up to your current wallet which shows you how much Bitcoin you have and how much it is worth in terms of your default currency. In my case that means US dollars. And novice users should remember that Bitcoin value does fluctuate. Overall the Bitcoin Wallet app has a simple design, and it makes use of a navigation menu that slides in from the left hand side of your Android device. That menu is where you’ll go to buy or sell Bitcoin, adjust the settings of the app, and view your Wallet and Vault. A small circular icon in the lower right is where you can send or request Bitcoin from other users.
But going back to the part about how the Bitcoin Wallet app connects to your regular banking. Part of the initial setup process has you connecting your regular bank account. That means you can now accept Bitcoin as payment from someone. Then once that person sends you the Bitcoin as payment, you can “sell” the Bitcoin, which just means regular money will be transferred to that connected bank account.
What We Liked
- Clean and easy to navigate user interface.
- The ability to access your account from a mobile device, and from the desktop.
- Easy connection to your more traditional banking.
Room for Improvement
- Android app security limited to 4-digit PIN.
- Transfers from Bitcoin to dollar, or dollar to Bitcoin have a 1% fee attached.
- Wait times. Bitcoin purchases take 4 business days to finalize.
The wait times and fees certainly aren’t ideal, but the overall setup and the ability to easily turn your Bitcoin into regular dollars should make this an attractive entry point. And lastly, as an added bonus, you get $1 USD worth of Bitcoin just for signing up.
Bottom line here, if you were curious about Bitcoin but didn’t know where to start we suggest giving the Coinbase Bitcoin Wallet app a try.
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