If you’ve ever been shopping around for the cheapest and easiest way of buying bitcoins, you’ll probably agree that it can be a time-consuming and laborious task. There is no shortage of exchanges, and new venues are popping up frequently. Fee schedules and lead times vary and often have to be dug from different sections of each site.
Here’s where CoinLlama comes in. Like websites that aggregate the best rates for electronics, insurance or mortgages, CoinLlama ranks 10 major venues by the total cost to buy a given quantity of bitcoins and the turn-around time needed for such. Note that the transaction volume can affect the price, and this is accounted for.
The total cost of purchase accounts for all charges, including deposit and transaction fees. These are broken down in detail when mousing over the purchase price. Similarly, the total days from when you start the process until bitcoins get to your wallet is broken down by account verification, deposit, transaction processing and withdrawal times. The results can be tailored specifically for a given deposit option.
The same exercise follows for selling bitcoins into fiat such as USD or EUR.
DC Magnates spoke with Ofir Beigel, founder of the site and of 99bitcoins.com, to get a deeper look:
First of all: nice product! I had been thinking for some time that we really need this for bitcoins.
Any plans to connect with Chinese exchanges, where much of the trading volume reportedly takes place? By extension, to move beyond purchase with USD or EUR?
Absolutely. The thing is that every exchange has a very different fee structure, this gets very complicated once you add different currencies. So in order to start on the right foot we made our initial product as simple as possible – only USD and EUR. The thought behind this was that we want to get initial user feedback before moving on. Once we finish gathering our feedback we will expand to other exchanges. Our future plan is to add an API which allows exchanges to add themselves without our help – basically to crowdsource this project just like HowToBuyBitcoins.info.
Do you think your service will influence how some exchanges do business if customers see that they’re not competitive?
I think once the majority of Bitcoin buyers understand that they have a search engine solution to the question “where should I buy Bitcoin?” and embrace it, exchanges will quickly follow. Just like the web started out with portals and then moved towards the direction of search engine – so will Bitcoin. It’s sad to say, but today it’s still too expensive to buy Bitcoin mainly due to high deposit, transaction and withdrawal fees. Once people will find out cheaper alternatives through websites like CoinLlama the exchanges will have to make a change.
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Do the exchanges offer you a referral fee if customers buy through their site after visiting yours?
No. We do not get incentives from exchanges for driving traffic to them.
Similarly, will any exchanges offer discounts to customers coming through your site (perhaps counterintuitive, but this is a trend observed with such services for things like car insurance)?
At the moment we’re focused on spreading the word out about CoinLlama as much as possible and are not engaging in any joint ventures. We believe that the product has enough value to the customer in its current state. It’s definitely a possibility that once we reached a critical mass of users, we will use this leverage in order to further lower Bitcoin costs for our audience.
Why the llama?
Bitcoin is a technical concept which is pretty hard to grasp for the common man on the street. We think the Llama makes Bitcoin look much more friendly and fun than it usually seems. Also it’s hard to look at a Llama and not smile…
Why does it take so long for the results to load?
We show results in real time. This means that each time a user submits a query we go to each and every exchange, get the latest exchange rate and then calculate all of the fees according to the user’s country and the amount of Bitcoins he wants to purchase. Since there are so many variables (14 to be precise) and we wan’t to give our users the most accurate answer possible it takes a few seconds to bring back the results. It’s basically the same reason you have to wait so long for results to load from Expedia or any other decent price search engine.
Any plans to expand to Litecoin and others?
At the moment no. I think there’s still so much to be done with Bitcoin that it will take a while until we even consider expanding to other currencies. I believe that when you create a product you have to take things one step at a time and not chew more than you can eat.