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It works much like with any other currency exchange: Find a place in your area (ATM's, post office, train station, LocalBitcoins.com), or sign-up with a reputable exchange in your country, or region.
Austrian exchange, accepts Sofort Überweisung, Wire, Visa, MasterCard, SEPA, and Giro Pay.
Bitcoin Deutschland AG
German exchange (Fidor), accepts IBAN transfers, very userfriendly but only Bitcoin
US exchange, accepts wire transfer (Fidor), professional trading exchange
Netherland exchange, accepts iDEAL, Bancontact and MyBank
Fully decentralized P2P exchange with escrow for advanced users
Tip: Due to Bitcoins rising transaction fees, and slow transfer times, I recommend other coins such as Ripple (XRP - 1.5s, virtually no fees), Ether (ETH - up to 10 minutes, couple of cents), or Litecoin (LTC - up to 2 minutes, cents).
Platform Performance of Top Cryptos
It works just like your current bank account, but unless you share your secret ("pin"), nobody else can access, transfer or even freeze your funds - not even the government.
Each cryptocurrency requires it's own account, much like the EUR, USD, YEN accounts you can open at every mainstream bank. However, unlike banks, the infrastructure is powered by thousands of nodes and miners, that help secure the network, and decentralize what was previously in the hands of few (see SWIFT).
Your funds are stored on a completely trustless, decentralized, public ledger. To access this ledger, you need a compatible wallet application as well as your secret. With that in hand, you can transfer your funds, pay for bills or exchange them to other currencies from anywhere in the world - even offline!
Usually your exchange already provides you with a wallet, but for convienience and additional security, it's advisable to create a seperate wallet.
Desktop wallet for Mac, Windows, Linux
Mobile wallet for iOS, Android
Ledger Nano S
Physical wallet, like USB stick which stores your private key
Multi-signature Bitcoin (BTC) wallets are also available. To make a transaction such as a funds transfer, multiple parties will need to sign the transaction with the secret, in order for it to execute. Great for companies, non-profits and even families: Copay.
Is it worth the trouble? Yes, especially for international transfers.
A number of large institutions and banks such as Santander, American Express or Western Union have already adopted cryptocurrencies to speed up their foreign exchange transactions, and reduce cost by up to 90%.
Due to the size of the cryptocurrency market, prices do fluctuate but rest assured, unlike the US Central Bank, you can't simply 'print' new cryptocurrencies and most have either a fixed amount in circulation, or have a built-in inflation feature.
2017/2016 YoY Market Performance
Efforts are underway to introduce cryptocurrencies that are backed by traditional assets such as gold (DGX) or USD (USDT). You will be able to spend physical gold with your credit card. Powered by cryptocurrency, backed by a decentralized infrastructure.
I respect your privacy: Unless you're using Facebook to sign in, no data is exchanged with 3rd party providers. Either way, it will only take a second.