₿ Bitcoin was developed to produce an electronic currency that was independent of any central banking authority; where virtual money is transacted in cyberspace more or less instantly with very low transaction fees. The currency is pseudonymous, meaning that funds are not tied to real-world entities but rather bitcoin addresses.
₿ Bitcoin is both exciting and mysterious, and you need to do your homework if you’re interested in transacting off this virtual platform. Here is everything you need to know about bitcoin and how you can buy and invest in bitcoin in South Africa.
What is bitcoin?
To put it simply, bitcoin is electronic money or rather cryptocurrency. It’s a form of digital currency where no one controls it; and it’s not printed like ordinary Rands, US dollars or Euros. It is produced by people who run computers using software that solves mathematical problems. These people are known as ‘bitcoin miners’.
Bitcoin allows any person based anywhere in the world to send and receive money without permission from a bank, corporation or government entity. The transaction is instantaneous and the cost is negligible regardless of the amount of money being sent or received. This takes intermediary banking services out of the equation, such as PayPal, MoneyGram, and Western Union.
It’s a decentralised digital currency and the largest of its kind in terms of total market value. Bitcoin is decentralised because it is not controlled by any centralised banking merchant. It is created and managed through advanced encryption technology known as cryptography.
Today, Bitcoin can be used as a legal form of payment for products and services and because the transaction fees are substantially lower than typical credit card payment processes, merchants are more than happy to accept bitcoin. The big difference between bitcoin and credit cards is any fees charged are paid by the purchaser and not the vendor.
Top 20 Cryptocurrencies by Market Capitalization in Rands.
Who invented bitcoin?
Bitcoin was invented per se by a pseudonymous person known as Satoshi Nakamoto, who for various reasons has chosen not to disclose his or her real identity (it may even be a group of software inventors). Nakamoto first published the invention of bitcoin in a white paper in 2008 and released it as open-source software in 2009.
Nakamoto was active in the development of bitcoin up until 2010 but has since disappeared off the radar. Many people have claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto but no one knows for sure who the person is and where he or she is now.
Nakamoto devised the first blockchain database. Through this process, Nakamoto solved the double-spending problem inherent to digital currency using a peer-to-peer network. In essence, Nakamoto produced a virtual currency that was independent of any central authority, which could be transferred electronically more or less instantly and with very low transaction fees.
How does bitcoin work?
To understand how bitcoin works, you need to understand the simple dynamics of blockchain. Bitcoin and blockchain are not the same, although one cannot be separated from the other.
Basically, blockchain is the ingenious technology that allows information to pass from A to B in a fully automated and safe manner. The emphasis is on fairness and security; where blockchain creates a massive database that allows people from around the world to record information safely and interact with anyone without having to place their personal trust in them.
Can you imagine a “trustless system”. Now you can with blockchain. There is no central point to blockchain; no central government entity, foreign exchange or bank. Blockchain is decentralised; meaning all the information is stored on hundreds of thousands of different computers which makes it impossible for anyone to hack the database and steal information.
How does blockchain work?
Put simply, one party initiates the transaction process by creating a block which in turn is verified by hundreds of thousands of computers that are distributed around the worldwide net.
The verified block is then added to a chain that is stored across the net. This creates a unique record with a unique history. It’s virtually impossible to falsify information pertaining to one block because it would mean falsifying the entire blockchain in millions of instances across the net.
In summary, the digital information (the monetary transaction) is the “block” and this information is stored in a public database known as the “chain”. Hence, blockchain technology. Bitcoin uses the blockchain model for financial transactions but it can be used in countless other ways.
Blocks store transaction information as follows:
- date, time and the Rand/Dollar/Euro amount
- who is participating in the transaction (buyer and seller); although no actual name is identified, uses a digital signature like a username
- unique information that distinguishes one block from another using a unique code called a “hash”
A single block in the blockchain can store up to 1 MB of data. Depending on the transaction, one block can store a few thousand transactions.
The information in the blockchain is open for anyone to see and therefore transactions using blockchain technology are transparent and everyone is held accountable for their transactions. More importantly, any information stored in a block cannot be changed or altered so it stands as irrefutable evidence of a transaction.
Is bitcoin the same as blockchain?
No, bitcoin is not the same as blockchain but the two are often confused with each other. This is because bitcoin was the first application to successfully use blockchain technology in the form of open source code and since then bitcoin and blockchain are often used interchangeably.
Bitcoin transactions are stored and transferred using a distributed ledger on a peer-to-peer network. Blockchain is the technology that maintains the bitcoin transaction ledger.
Is bitcoin safe to use for transactions?
Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are built on blockchain technology. The information held within a blockchain is safeguarded by a peer-to-peer (P2P) network which is open, public and anonymous. The identity of the person doing the transaction is hidden behind random numbers and letters which is a form of digital coding known as cryptography.
Furthermore, blockchain is kept honest through ingenious programmes that reward people for keeping it honest; otherwise known as consensus protocols. The information stays true and honest because a unique coding system known as hashes immediately identify whether anything has been changed or edited.
Bitcoin was invented by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto who used blockchain technology to allow digital information to be recorded and distributed but not changed or edited. Nakamoto described bitcoin as “a new electronic cash system that is fully peer-to-peer with no trusted third party”.
What is bitcoin mining?
People use bitcoin to send and receive money or they invest in bitcoin. Then you get people who mine bitcoin. To fully understand how bitcoin works, you need to know more about bitcoin mining and why people do it
Bitcoin mining is done by people who have specialised computers. The purpose of bitcoin mining is to secure the peer-to-peer network and process every bitcoin transaction that comes through on that network. Bitcoin miners do this by solving a complex mathematical problem which allows them to create a blockchain; in other words, blocks of transactions that form a chain.
For this (creating a blockchain), bitcoin miners are rewarded with newly-created Bitcoins and transaction fees.
Bitcoin mining is important for 3 reasons:
Mining is used to issue new bitcoins
Traditional currencies such as US$, Euro and Rands are issued by central banks and they can issue new currency at any point in time if its deemed to improve the economy of the country. Bitcoin works differently in that miner are rewarded with new bitcoins which are generated at a rate of one every 10 minutes.
The rate at which bitcoin is issued is set in the software code so bitcoin miners cannot cheat the system or create fraudulent bitcoin.
Bitcoin miners confirm transactions that are sent and received via the P2P network
A transaction has to be included in a block to be considered secure and finalised. When it has been allocated to a block, only then is it embedded into a bitcoin blockchain.
Miners ensure the P2P network is secure
Bitcoin miners make it difficult for the P2P network to be hacked, altered or stopped. The more miners that mine bitcoin on a network, the more secure it will be. This is because the only way to reverse Bitcoin transactions is to have more than 51% of the network hash power.
What does bitcoin look like?
Bitcoin is a virtual currency. You can’t see it or touch it; it exists as a completely digital currency that looks like copious lines of codes. You can think of bitcoin as a computer file that is stored in an app that acts as a digital wallet.
The computer file sits on your personal computer or smartphone and you can send bitcoins or parts of bitcoins to your digital wallet. Every transaction is recorded in a digital ledger called a blockchain.
How to make money from bitcoin?
There are a number of ways you can make money from bitcoin but what you get out of this cryptocurrency depends entirely on how much you are invested in bitcoin and how much effort you’re willing to put into it. Maximum effort yields maximum returns, and likewise, minimal effort yields minimal returns.
Don’t be fooled into thinking bitcoin is an easy way to make money; it’s harder and more complicated than most people think. Here are some of the more popular ways to make money out of the bitcoin revolution:
It’s called bitcoin mining because bitcoin miners have to bring bitcoin from the depths of the cryptocurrency mystical sphere to the surface. Bitcoin miners earn money from transaction fees and earn bitcoins as a reward for their work if they are available.
The mining system is what keeps the P2P network going. It’s relatively simple to mine bitcoin and the miners who were first to respond to the concept were able to mine thousands of bitcoin from the comfort of their homes. However, it’s got a lot more complicated and competitive; not to mention volatile since the big crash of 2017.
It’s a race to solve blocks faster and more efficiently so bitcoin miners invest heavily in specialised computers that have greater processing power as well as join mining pools to have strength in number. Any reward generated through a mining pool is split between the members.
Bitcoin faucets and other micro earnings
You can earn money simply by looking at adverts and answering surveys placed on bitcoin faucet websites. These websites generate money from adverts placed on their webpages and if will be paid a small portion of their revenue by reviewing the adverts and answering short questions or captchas.
The same applies to pay-to-click websites where you are paid in bitcoin to watch adverts on a website or click on a certain webpage that contains adverts. You can also earn a small fee for completing simple tasks such as watching a YouTube video. You are sometimes paid in bitcoin.
Invest in bitcoin
You can take a short or long-term view on bitcoin which means you either buy and sell your bitcoins in a relatively small space of time; or you buy and hold your bitcoins until it’s the right time to sell. When you invest in bitcoin, you need to wait patiently for the price to rise; particularly if you bought ‘low’. Keep your bitcoin ‘cash’ in your digital wallet and decide when it’s a good time to sell or buy more.
You can make money trading in bitcoin if you buy at a low price and sell at a higher price. The cryptocurrency is volatile and unstable so it involves a high degree of risk. Many pundits use bitcoin to trade in securities, foreign exchange currency and commodities.
Day trading in bitcoin is also popular; offering pundits lower risk but for lower rewards. Day trader either trade bitcoin against other cryptocurrencies or against fiat currencies such as the Rand, US dollar or Euro. You can use our Rand to dollar Calculator for a more precise amount.
Another form of bitcoin trading is binary trading with bitcoin. A trader buys an option on bitcoin and at the end of the day, has either made a profit or a loss. It’s a mild form of gambling and is a risky way to make money from bitcoins.
Earning interest on bitcoin loans
It’s a popular option to loan bitcoin at a certain interest rate. It’s one way to make your bitcoin work for you as opposed to holding onto it in your bitcoin wallet. Several lend-and-borrow platforms have been created which allow you to lend your bitcoin at an interest rate of up to 15%. bch to zar is a rising search in the Crypto World.
Sharing your passion for bitcoin
If you’re somewhat of an expert in bitcoin, you can earn a fee for sharing your knowledge and helping other people understand and invest in bitcoin. You can do this by writing on the subject as a content writer or by actively engaging with a community to help them with their bitcoin issues.
How much does it cost to open a bitcoin account?
A bitcoin account is free. You don’t pay to have a bitcoin account or bitcoin wallet. The bitcoin exchange you sign up should offer you a free bitcoin wallet as part of the deal. It can be downloaded on your computer or you can use a web-based or smartphone version; all for free.
No administration fee or activation fee should be charged when you sign up with a bitcoin exchange to open a bitcoin account. The beauty of bitcoin is it is a decentralised platform which means that no person is needed to administer the account, unlike traditional banking processes.
In addition, there is no minimum investment amount required to open a bitcoin account with a bitcoin exchange. You can transfer as little as R50 into your bitcoin account and purchase something for as little as R10 without incurring any fees.
If you find that the bitcoin exchange is charging an administration or activation fee and demanding a minimum bitcoin investment value; beware, it is more than likely a scam operation.
The only costs you will incur are the regular banking fees for credit or debit card transactions when you are transferring funds into your bitcoin account.
What is a bitcoin debit card and do I need one?
A bitcoin debit card is a transaction card that is linked to your bitcoin account. It allows you to pay for goods and services in a fast, simple and secure manner; either in person, online, over the phone or by computer.
Bitcoin debit cards work like traditional banking debit cards and can be used to withdraw and deposit money at an ATM or used at the point of sale when buying an item. It saves you the hassle of drawing money from a bank account; instead, a bitcoin debit card draws directly from funds in your bitcoin account.
There is a nominal charge if you obtain a bitcoin debit card. A bitcoin debit card must be ordered direct from the bitcoin exchange you have signed up with; do not let a third party provide you with one because they then have access (the keys) to your bitcoin wallet and can fraudulently access your bitcoin funds.
When you buy something using a bitcoin debit card, only the amount of cryptocurrency you need is sold for fiat currency.
Is bitcoin a fiat currency?
No, bitcoin is not a fiat currency. It is a cryptocurrency that’s been created by a computer. It’s an electronic or digital currency that is not backed by a central government or bank because it is decentralised and global. Bitcoin acts more like a credit card and facilitates a new-age cashless society.
Fiat money is a traditional currency that is issued by the government of a country and is declared as legal tender. The currency is not backed by a physical commodity such as gold and platinum; instead its values are based on supply and demand of the currency and the stability of the government issuing the fiat currency.
Most modern paper currencies are examples of fiat money; such as US Dollars, Euro and Rands. Fiat money allows the government’s central bank to have greater control over the economy because they can control how much currency is printed. The danger is always that the government prints more fiat currency than is needed to boost a flagging economy and this results in hyperinflation.
The future of bitcoin?
Launched in 2009, bitcoin peaked in April 2013 when it reached a record US$ 266 per bitcoin after surging 10-fold in the preceding two months. At its peak, bitcoin held market value of over US$ 2 billion but experienced a 50% plunge shortly after it peaked.
This, of course, sparked a heated debate around the world as to the future of bitcoin in particular and cryptocurrencies in general. People were asking if bitcoin is a passing fad or whether, once the kinks have been ironed out, it will become the alternative universal currency that wipes out all other conventional forms of currency.
There is some talk that bitcoin may possibly be floated on the Nasdaq which would boost the credibility of blockchain technology and how it is used as an alternative to conventional currencies. The demand is not there yet but the experts predict that once bitcoin delivers a verified Exchange Traded Fund (EFT) which will make it easier to invest in bitcoin, the electronic currency will become as common in global trading as the US Dollar and Euro.
What is the difference between bitcoin and Ethereum?
Just as the world started getting used to the idea of trading in bitcoin, ethereum hit the marketplace. It was proposed in late 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, a cryptocurrency researcher and programmer, as an alternative platform on which smart contracts and decentralised apps could run.
Like bitcoin, ethereum is an open-source platform that uses blockchain technology to create and run decentralised digital applications otherwise known as ‘dapps’. It enables users to make agreements and transact directly with parties to buy, sell and trade goods and services without a middleman.
It’s said that bitcoin has a lower coin supply and is more liquid than ethereum, but that ethereum has better technology and has more user applications. The big difference between bitcoin and ethereum is bitcoin is capped at 21 million while ethereum is uncapped. Both bitcoin and ethereum are produced through mining.
— TRADING BITCOIN IN SOUTH AFRICA – 1 BTC to ZAR —
How to buy bitcoin in South Africa?
Buying bitcoin starts with signing up for a mobile app that allows you to obtain a bitcoin wallet. Then it’s possible to use traditional means such as a credit or debit card or a bank transfer to buy bitcoins on a bitcoin exchange using a bitcoin wallet to “bank” your bitcoins.
You can buy bitcoins through one of the South African bitcoin exchanges and transfer funds through any of the major South African banks. You can digitally trade bitcoin once the funds have cleared as well as trade face to face with sellers or service providers who accept bitcoin.
The two oldest bitcoin exchanges in South Africa are Luno and ice3X (ice-cubed). These two South African bitcoin exchanges accept a direct deposit from your current bank account or a payment facility such as PayPal. Once the funds have cleared, you can buy and trade bitcoins in a safe and secure manner; typically by transferring what you have purchased to your private bitcoin wallet.
Signing up with a bitcoin exchange using Luno as an example; you’ll go through an easy step-by-step process to register a bitcoin account, place an order to buy bitcoin and start trading bitcoin:
- Sign up for an account
- Verify your account – simply verify your email.
- Deposit money into your account
- Buy bitcoin with an ‘instant buy’ feature
- Place an order to buy bitcoin on the exchange
You can also buy bitcoin using a PayPal account. This is a worldwide payment system that’s used by a vast number of South Africans to accept online payments or to transfer money to friends and family. It’s more expensive to use PayPal to buy bitcoin and the extra fee that’s charged does depend on the exchange rate.
Beware of hackers and bitcoin scams. Every now and then you hear of another bitcoin exchange that has been hacked. A bitcoin exchange is used to deposit, exchange and withdraw bitcoins but you should only leave funds in the exchange that you intend to use immediately to trade. Any bitcoins that you are not trading with should be withdrawn from the exchange and transferred to your own secure private bitcoin wallet for safekeeping.
How to get a bitcoin wallet in South Africa?
Bitcoin wallets are available in different forms. You get a:
- desktop wallet that you download on your desktop computer
- mobile wallet app that you can download on your smart phone
- web-based/online bitcoin wallet that you can access through the web
- physical hardware wallet
- secure paper wallet
A bitcoin wallet is similar to an email address that is unique to you. Bitcoins are sent to your bitcoin wallet address which you share or publish depending on how you choose to trade in bitcoins.
The most popular bitcoin wallet in South Africa is the Luno wallet which is linked to your personal Luno trading account on the Luno Exchange. To get this popular wallet if you are trading bitcoin in South Africa, you need to first register with Luno for a free account (www.luno.com).
How to invest in bitcoin in South Africa?
In the old days, people bought gold as an investment for their future. Today, bitcoin is regarded as ‘digital gold’ that are mined and distributed to keen investors who have faith that bitcoin will appreciate in value in the future.
Many people actively trade in bitcoin; either buying and selling goods and services or they attempt to make money with short- or long-term bitcoin trading. Many choose to invest in bitcoin where they buy bitcoin, store it safely and sell it at a future date for a profit. To invest in bitcoin is like having Kruger Rands in your wallet; except you have cryptocurrency in a bitcoin wallet.
The easiest way to invest in bitcoin is to buy it on a bitcoin exchange. You don’t need to buy the entire bitcoin; you can buy ‘part of a bitcoin’ to the value of what you have available to invest. You can spend a few thousand or a few hundred Rand on bitcoin; there is no minimum amount required to invest in bitcoin.
For example: if the price of one bitcoin is R17 253; and you only purchase an amount to the value of R2 500, you will get about 0.1449 BTC.
In fact, the experts recommend investing smaller amounts in bitcoin at regular intervals, rather one large amount as a once-off investment. This protects you against extreme price volatility which is a characteristic of the bitcoin market.
If you invest in bitcoin to sell at a profit at a later date, it’s highly recommended that you transfer the bitcoin out of the exchange and store it safely offline in a bitcoin hardware wallet. Bitcoin exchanges are vulnerable to attacks by advanced hackers.
Is bitcoin a fad or a real investment?
Like any many investment products and foreign exchange trading; bitcoin is a commodity and therefore unpredictable. You may make a great profit or a great loss, depending on when you buy and sell your bitcoin. The market price of bitcoin is dictated by supply and demand and the markets faith in the value of the commodity.
Beware of any company that promises you guaranteed returns on your bitcoin investment. This is more than likely a ponzi scheme or scam.
How much is 1 bitcoin in South Africa?
Bitcoin is represented as BTC; a bitcoin digital asset which is a digital coin of sorts. There is only 21 million bitcoins in existence in the bitcoin network. The blockchain that powers bitcoin gives the digital asset its value and practical applications.
View bitcoin volatility and history to make an informed decision before buying bitcoin.
The cost of a bitcoin in Rands in South Africa is subject to supply and demand and changes from day to day. To find the real price of bitcoin in South Africa, you need to refer to the bitcoin exchange that you signed up with to open a bitcoin account. This will more than likely be Luno or IceCubed.
How to convert Rand to bitcoin
To work out how much bitcoin you will get for a Rand amount; divide the amount you want to spend by the current price of bitcoin in South Africa.
Rand amount to spend / price of bitcoin = BTC total
To do a Rand to bitcoin conversion, it’s important to first get the price of bitcoin in South Africa before you divide by the amount you want to spend. This is particularly helpful if you want to know which bitcoin seller will give you the most bitcoin for your money.
Rands to bitcoin converter: before bitcoin exchange fees
Amount you want to spend = R1 000
Current bitcoin price = R8 000
2250 / 8 500 = 0.125 BTC
Amount you want to spend = R4 500
Current bitcoin price = R8 000
4 500 / 8 000 = 0.5625 BTC
How to convert bitcoin to Rands – Use our Bitcoin to Rand Converter Below: 1 BTC to ZAR
To convert bitcoin to Rands, you multiply the amount of bitcoin you have bought by the current bitcoin price in South Africa. This rate is fluid and changes every day.
Bear in mind, this calculation is what you get BEFORE the bitcoin exchange fee is levied.
Bitcoin to Rands converter: before bitcoin exchange fees
If 1 bitcoin equals 125 023.60 South African Rand: 1 x R 125 023.60 = R 125 023,60
0.01 bitcoin: 0.01 x R 125 023.60 = R 1 250.24
0.10 bitcoin: 0.10 x R 125 023.60 = R 12 502.36
2 bitcoin: 2 x R 125 023.60 = R 250 047.20
5 bitcoin: 5 x R 125 023.60 = R 625 118.00
10 bitcoin: 10 x R 125 023.60 = R 1 250 236.00
1 000 bitcoin: 1 000 x R 125 023.60 = R 125 023 600.00
How to work out bitcoin exchange fees
You need to check the current bitcoin exchange fee before you trade in bitcoin. Typically, a bitcoin exchange levies a fee of 1% on the price advertised.
If the bitcoin exchange fee is 1% and the price of bitcoin is R8 000; the fee will be R80 to trade. Work this out by multiplying the price of bitcoin by 1.01
R8 000 x 1.01 = R8 080
To work out only what the fee amount will be: multiply the price of bitcoin by .01
R8 000 x 0.01 = R80
Bitcoin exchange fee calculation
1% for a trade
1 bitcoin = 124 955.78 South African Rand
R 124 955.78 x 0.01 = R 1 249.56
0.8% for a trade
1 bitcoin = R 124 955.78 South African Rand
R 124 955.78 x 0.008 = R 999.65
How to work out withdrawal fees on a bitcoin exchange
Most bitcoin exchanges in South Africa do not charge a withdrawal fee on bitcoin exchanges. If they do, it’s typically 0.5%. To work out what fee you will pay to withdraw on a bitcoin exchange, multiply the price of bitcoin by the BTC fee amount to get the cost in Rands.
R8 000 x 0.005 = R 40
Bitcoin withdrawal fee calculation
0.5% to withdraw
1 bitcoin = 124 955.78 South African Rand
R 124 955.78 x 0.005 = R 624.78
1% to withdraw
1 bitcoin = R 124 955.78 South African Rand
R 124 955.78 x 0.01 = R 1249.56
Who accepts bitcoin in South Africa?
The number of retail outlets and service providers that accept bitcoin and bitcoin cash is limited in South Africa. This is largely due to unique design flaws that make bitcoin an impractical substitute for cash, for the time being. Limitations include high transaction fees and long confirmation times for buyers.
Bitcoin exchanges in South Africa such as Luno have put in place processes to mitigate these issues in order to ensure the user experience is satisfactory. Luno acts as an intermediary between a buyer’s bitcoin wallet and a retail outlet or service provider. To eliminate any risk posed by bitcoin’s price volatility, Luno locks the bitcoin to ZAR exchange rate / conversion for a maximum 10-minute window period.
If the transaction is confirmed in 10 minutes, the bitcoin payment is successful. If not, the bitcoin payment is declined and the retail outlet or service provider needs to issue a refund to the customer. The bitcoin user may incur a non-refundable fee for every attempted payment, even if the payment is unsuccessful.
Outlets in South Africa that accept bitcoin (as at Sept 2019)
- com; the largest ecommerce retailer in South Africa
- RunwaySale; largest fashion shopping club in South Africa
- Raru; largest ecommerce retailer in South Africa for gaming, music, movies and electronic products
- Cape Coffee Beans; popular online store in South Africa for coffee lovers
- Custom Candies; online store for custom apparel and gifts
- The Tea Merchant; ecommerce site for loose leaf tea, teapots, cups and tea accessories
- Nevada Furniture; imports brands such as Ikea products directly to South Africa
- RC King; popular online hobby shop
Ironically, Amazon does not accept bitcoin. It does accept gift cards which can be purchased using bitcoin. The Amazon digital gift cards act like USD-based credit cards which can be buy products online.
For the best exchanges to convert rand to bitcoin cash / satoshi to zar – OPEN A FREE ACCOUNT
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