Why is it so hard to buy Bitcoin in the United States?

Bitcoin has come a long way in the nine or so years it has been in existence. It is the most popular cryptocurrency as well as commanding the biggest share of market capitalization. Bitcoin is in the news almost every day. It is now accepted as a payment currency in several places around the world. With bitcoin, you can purchase virtually anything under the sun. What’s more appealing is the fact that you can do all these in a pseudonymous manner, only revealing your public address.

Bitcoin is also traded and exchanged on almost every cryptocurrency trading and exchange site. It is also used as a payment currency when buying another crypto. Even more enticing, is the possibility of bitcoin becoming a mainstream currency. With increased use and wider acceptance, bitcoin access should be getting easier by the day. It is also unregulated, meaning anybody can acquire and use Bitcoin. So, one would be forgiven if they thought that buying bitcoin is the easiest experience in all of the cryptocurrency. For most of us, it could be faster and easier. But why is it still hard to buy bitcoin is the U.S?

Why you may find it difficult to buy Bitcoin

I have already indicated that many of us find buying bitcoin a pretty straightforward thing around the world. All you need is to open an account, fund it and off you are with BTC in your wallet. On other occasions, you connect with a seller via a peer-to-peer bitcoin site before proceeding to complete the purchase.

AML/KYC regulations

That sounds easy. However, for some reason or the other, buying bitcoin can be a nightmare for some people. And it all relates to getting an account to facilitate that first buy. The objective of AML/KYC regulations is to prevent the use of bitcoin and other crypto assets to commit criminal related activities.

Exchanges operate under stringent KYC regulations. It means they have to adhere to the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations. And apparently, the US Securities and Exchanges Commission is so tough on this issue.

Therefore, buying platforms are pushed into enforcing stringent ID verification which in turn makes it hard for beginners to buy bitcoin. ! It becomes a problem when it takes up to 5 days for your account to be verified.

Fewer US-based buying platforms

Much of the difficulties arise from the regulatory challenges the Bitcoin exchanges face. For instance, very few U.S states allow bitcoin exchanges to operate within their jurisdictions without proper licensing. This has resulted in there being fewer U.S based exchanges. It then leads to most people seeking to buy bitcoin from foreign-based companies. Most of the foreign-based exchanges do not accept credit card or PayPal. They prefer bank wire or cash deposits. And that’s where the problem of ID verification comes in. some requirements make it hard for the ordinary person to get bitcoin.

Unsupported payment methods

The other reason you may find it difficult to buy bitcoin relates to lack of supported payment methods. The easiest way to buy bitcoin is via cash. However, getting someone to buy from is not an easy thing. So, many buyers prefer to use bank transfers, credit cards or PayPal.

Sometimes you may be required to buy bitcoin using a payment method you can’t access. You cannot buy bitcoin directly with fiat on exchanges. That’s the first hurdle. If you decide to use LocalBitcoins, for example, issues of mistrust make it harder to approach strangers to complete the transaction.

Banks making it difficult to buy bitcoin

Banks are unsupportive of Bitcoin. Several U.S banks have suspended use of its services related to bitcoin transactions. Even where it works, bank transfers make it difficult to buy bitcoin when they end up taking long periods to process the deposit.

CEX.IO, for example, says that bank transfers can take up to 14 business days to be reflected in their system. That’s 14 days of waiting, and all these also depend on the payment processing.

If you wanted to buy at a certain price, you may end up missing the chance due to the unpredictable nature of Bitcoin prices.

The use of a credit card has so far been the most common method of buying Bitcoin and altcoins. But MasterCard and Visa have made it harder by increasing their fees by 5%. Now to buy Bitcoin using a credit card will cost you up to 10%.

Use of PayPal is even harder, anywhere in the world. Let’s look at it in the following point.

Chargeback or Fraud risks

PayPal is the toughest buying method due to the inherent risk of chargebacks or fraud. There is no direct way to buy bitcoin with PayPal. This makes it hard for someone with a PayPal account to purchase bitcoin. Remember that bitcoin purchases are irreversible.

On the other hand, PayPal usage allows for chargebacks. This makes it easy for fraudsters and scammers to exploit this channel. Exchanges are indeed reluctant to accept PayPal. In fact, PayPal itself discourages the use of the platform to buy bitcoin. The company states that the selling (and/or buying) of bitcoin is against their policy. Accounts can be closed or be suspended if understood to be in breach of PayPal’s T&C.

To use PayPal, for instance, one will be forced to buy SLL (Second Life Lindens) first. Then you can use them the Linden dollars to buy bitcoin. That’s quite a hassle that makes it hard for some people to buy bitcoin.


It is a fact that buying bitcoin is fast becoming the only way for common people to access it. Mining is quickly getting too expensive. However, the main reason it is so hard to buy BTC relates to the issue of using US dollars electronically. You can’t send US dollars directly and irreversibly to an exchange like Coinbase or Gemini. So, the exchange has to protect itself against chargeback possibilities. They thus, undertake all sorts of anti-fraud measures that invariably include ID authentication. You may also be limited to the amount of Bitcoin you can buy. All of these processes and checks make it a bit harder to buy bitcoin in the United States.