The average person can buy and sell bitcoins through the San Francisco-based company, Coinbase, which runs a secure website that acts like a bitcoin wallet linked to the person's bank account. Through Coinbase, the public can carry out bitcoin transactions with participating merchants and send or receive bitcoins to and from anyone in the world.
Outside the United States, bitcoin merchant services are available in 25 other countries, all of which are in Europe, such as the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. However, bitcoins are transacted in 190 countries worldwide. Customers pay a 1 percent fee for purchasing bitcoins but do not pay anything when sending or receiving bitcoins. To sign up with Coinbase, customers need to have their phone number and bank account verified.
As a new form of digital currency, bitcoin can be used to make instant payments worldwide. As of Aug. 10, 2015, one bitcoin was worth $265.56. However, they were very cheap at one time. In May 2010, 10,000 bitcoins could be traded for two large pizzas, according to an article from The Motley Fool.
Coinbase is really a payment-processing company, offering a business a way to accept bitcoin payments for online transactions and have that payment converted to U.S. dollars and deposited in its bank account. As such, Coinbase competes directly with credit card companies and PayPal. While businesses typically pay credit card companies 2.7 percent of the purchase price plus a 30-cent fee on every credit card transaction, Coinbase charges only a 1 percent commission to convert bitcoin to U.S. dollars.