First things first: There’s no such thing as “bitcoin stock.” However, there are certainly bitcoin investment opportunities, which is what we’re all about.
The news is filled with stories about the rising price of bitcoin, and many investors want to know how to get involved. Rather than thinking of bitcoin as a stock, however, think of it more like a commodity, such as gold. There is a buying price, a selling price, and a set amount of bitcoin on the market at one time.
This guide will help you understand how all these pieces fit together, to make you a more knowledgeable bitcoin investor.
What is the Bitcoin Stock Price?
When most people say “bitcoin stock price,” they are actually talking about the price of bitcoin itself.
Buyers and sellers “attach” value to a bitcoin, based on demand. Because bitcoin is traded at various exchanges, the value varies a bit — in the same way that the spot price of gold varies slightly, depending on where and when you buy it. Most bitcoin websites will average prices across the top exchanges, to give you the most accurate price. Because they all use different exchanges, on different time delays, the price may vary a bit from site to site — there’s no real penalty for choosing one over the other.
What is the Bitcoin Stock Ticker?
Bitcoin is often represented with the ticker symbol BTC, though it’s technically not a stock ticker. As the demand for bitcoin and other altcoins has grown, investors have shortened these names into three-letter symbols, to make it easier to trade them on exchanges. Some of the more popular altcoin “tickers”:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ripple (XRP)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- NEM (confusingly named XEM)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Dash (sensibly named DASH)
- Steem (STEEM)
- Golem (GNT)
A full list of currently-traded altcoins, with tickers, can be found at CoinMarketCap.com.
The convenience of having these “altcoin stock tickers” is that investors can easily see exchange rates between currency pairs (for example, BTC/USD is the price of bitcoin in U.S. dollars). Bookmark our homepage for bitcoin prices in various currencies.
How to Buy Bitcoin Stock
Most people looking for “how to buy bitcoin stock” are really looking to buy and hold bitcoin itself. There are a few ways to do this:
1) Through an online exchange. To do this, you will need to set up a wallet for storing and transmitting your bitcoin. A wallet is an online account or a specialized app that lets you buy, sell, and store bitcoin. (See our Best of Bitcoin feature for recommended wallets.)
Once you have a wallet, decide how you wish to purchase your bitcoin. Online exchanges are the most secure, and tend to cost the least in transaction fees. The trade-off, however, is a lengthy enrollment policy that requires uploading identification documents like your driver’s license and passport, so the exchange can follow KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) laws.
While bitcoin exchanges are technically not stock exchanges, they do allow you to buy and sell bitcoin (and other altcoins) at the current price, like a stock exchange. We recommend that investors use large, trusted exchanges, such as Coinbase or Poloniex. Larger bitcoin exchanges typically have the most payment options and the best history of trustworthiness. (See our Best of Bitcoin feature for recommended exchanges.)
There are also peer-to-peer exchanges, where you are buying directly from other bitcoin holders through sites like Paxful. This can be done without the extensive enrollment process, but is less secure and more costly, with transaction fees reaching 5 to 10 percent of the transaction cost. There is greater privacy, however.
2) Bitcoin ATMs are another option: they accept cash, and send the bitcoin directly to your wallet. You may also be required to provide identification, however, and transaction fees can be high. (Click here to find a bitcoin ATM near you.)
3) Buying bitcoin in person is a final option, by meeting up with other investors and enthusiasts who are looking to sell. (Check out Meetup for bitcoin groups near you.)
For detailed steps on buying bitcoin, refer to our guide on How to Buy Bitcoin.
How to Buy Bitcoin Shares
Because bitcoin is not a company, there are no “bitcoin shares” or “bitcoin stocks.” However, there is a stock-like investment: Greyscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust (BIT), which owns and manages a portfolio of bitcoin on behalf of its investors. Investors can buy shares in the trust, thus investing in bitcoin with the legal assurances that come from a managed commodity security, and without the need to manage a wallet. Investors pay a significant premium over just buying and holding bitcoin, however, and the minimum investment is $20,000.
Whether you're a first-time bitcoin investor, or a seasoned pro, we're here to help. For the latest news on investing in bitcoin, subscribe to Bitcoin Market Journal .