Writing about bitcoins, one of the most asked questions is how to buy them. That answer is rapidly becoming easier with the creation of ATMs, exchanges that link automatically to your account, and as well as local Satoshi Square meetups taking place around the world. But what about those times when you are in the need of restocking your wallet and aren’t in an area you are familiar with, or unable to buy or sell bitcoins via bank transfer. Creating a solution is the Mycellieum Bitcoin Wallet available on Android.
There are quite a few bitcoin wallets available for smartphones (at least on Android). Mycelium has been picking up fans since it launched last August due to it containing a plethora of features such as PIN protection, ability to create, cold storage, and private key control, along with calculations of bitcoins into over a hundred different currencies. Distinguishing it from other wallet apps, in February, Mycellieum created local trader functionality. A bitcoin marketplace, the app allows users to publish their ads of bitcoins being offered for sale, with the available price in their local currency, as well as minimum and maximum amounts available for purchase.
Opening up the app, to access the new marketplace, users simply click on the ‘Buy/Sell Bitcoins’ button. At that point, users can either enter an address to search for sellers, or use their GPS to set their location. The app then prompts a list of sellers filtered by proximity along with prices. Looking for sellers in the Tel Aviv area, I came across Ariel Horwitz who had a low minimum threshold and was reviewed positively having successful sales in the past. Information also revealed that he was the operator of the AlefBit.com website, providing additional reference of who he was. Among negatives of person to person buying is the fact that you are walking around with cash, which has been reported to have led to thefts taking place. As such, having more information about the seller provides a more comfortable process.
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After placing my required amount, the app sends a message to Ariel who upon accepting my trade, sent me a message through the app of where to meet. It was agreed that we’d meet at the Bitcoin Embassy in Tel Aviv (this also gave me a chance to try out the ATM for the first time). Upon meeting, and showing the funds, on his phone, Ariel entered to release the funds to me. At this point, the bitcoin transaction takes place, with it being listed as 99% complete until it is confirmed by the blockchain a few minutes later. After speaking for a few minutes about bitcoins, the trade was fully confirmed and we were both on our way.
What I like about this app, is that it takes a problem, IE buying bitcoins, and creates a simple app based solution. Are you going to want to use it to buy large amounts of bitcoins? Probably not, but that could also depend on the locale and need for immediate bitcoins.
Beyond the purchase what I happened to like most about the buying experience was the additional social component provided. As a decentralized currency, bitcoin has grown by creating a thriving distributed user base. Mycelium provides an opportunity to leverage this global user base and connect to other users. Specifically for newbies, Mycelium and other similar products offers an effective way of meeting those involved with bitcoins as they get their feet wet with their first purchase.
(The marketplace is similar to that of LocalBitcoins where users enter their interest to acquire bitcoins from each other and then physically meet to finalize the purchase, but with Mycelium it operates exclusively on the app. It can be argued which is better, each has its advantages, Mycelium with its advanced app features, while LocalBitcoins offers web functionality along with offering a mobile app. Ultimately, as professional sellers will want to source the most flow for their sales, it can be expected that there will be overlap of the platforms. For this review, I focused on Mycelium as it offers users a strict mobile based experienced.)