Back in 2009, when Bitcoin was first released to the public, it was considered to be anonymous by many. However, now, Bitcoin’s anonymity has been defeated. It is incredibly easy for anyone to track your transactions on the blockchain. All they have to do is link your Bitcoin address to your real-world identity and every transaction you have conducted so far will be revealed.
Most cryptocurrency exchanges require you to provide government ID and other personal information before you are allowed to use their service. This information is stored in the database. Now all your account activity is forever linked to your real-world identity.
Some of the services allow you to buy Bitcoin with a debit/credit card or a bank transfer. Your bank or card is linked to your real-world identity. When you buy bitcoin, this transaction is recorded by your bank. Anyone with the right knowledge can easily track your Bitcoin.
However, there are still ways to buy Bitcoin anonymously. The important thing to understand here is that the moment your identity is linked to your bitcoin address, anonymity is broken. Here are some of the ways to buy Bitcoin anonymously:
1) Buy Bitcoin Using a P2P Exchange
A peer to peer exchange allows users to buy bitcoin from other users. These exchanges can be utilized to buy Bitcoin anonymously. In order to remain anonymous while using a p2p exchange, it is very important that you select the right payment method.
The payment method you must select is “cash in person” or “gift card“. Look for advertisements under these categories. If you select “cash in person” as the payment method, you will have to meet the seller in person. You will have to hand over cash to the seller and mark the payment as complete in the exchange.
If you think the “cash in person” method is too risky, you can choose the “gift card” method. But this requires you to go to a store and buy gift cards. Amazon and iTunes gift cards are very popular in p2p exchanges.
Although I should warn you, whatever payment method you use, some sellers require you to provide your identity verification and other identifiable information. Fortunately, many sellers accepting “cash in person” or “gift card”, do not ask for this information. Since we want to buy Bitcoin anonymously, we should never give this information.
One important thing to note is the price these sellers sell bitcoin at. All sellers markup the price of Bitcoin. Always check the market price of Bitcoin before you start a trade. If you consider the markup price to be fair, go ahead. But, if the price is too much, avoid it. You don’t want to stay anonymous at the expense of value lost.
Here are some of the best peer to peer exchanges for Bitcoin:
2) Convert Other Cryptocurrency to Bitcoin
There are many peer-to-peer exchanges available for other cryptocurrencies; not just Bitcoin. Here are some of these exchanges:
- LocalMonero – P2P exchange for Monero (XMR)
- LocalCrypto – P2P exchange for Ethereum (ETH)
- Local.bitcoin – P2P exchange for Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
All you have to do is buy cryptocurrency using “cash in person” or “gift card” using one of the exchanges listed above and convert it to Bitcoin. You can convert crypto to crypto using an exchange like Changelly. Changelly does not ask for ID or other personal information. Alternatively, you can use an exchange that doesn’t have KYC. Check out these exchanges here.
3) Use a Bitcoin Mixer (Tumbler)
If you have Bitcoin that can be tracked, you can use a Bitcoin mixer to obfuscate the trace. These mixers (tumblers) work in a way that they mix your Bitcoin with other peoples’ bitcoin and send bitcoin to a new address of yours from an unrelated address, essentially breaking the trace.
The new address of yours must not be linked to any identifiable information. An offline wallet or a paper wallet is best for this purpose.
Using a bitcoin mixer is not a method of buying bitcoin anonymously. It is a method of obfuscating the bitcoin trace. Check out SmartMixer bitcoin mixer here.
4) Selling Gift cards for Bitcoin
Some countries offer physical gift cards that can be bought from a local supermarket or a post office. These are gift cards loaded with a specific amount. Buy one of these cards with cash.
Now, to obtain bitcoin with these cards, you need to sell them for Bitcoin. You can use p2p exchanges like PaxFul or LocalBitCoins for this. You can also use Reddit subreddits. List your card on those sites and wait for a seller to respond.
5) Mine Bitcoin Through the Tor Network
You can mine bitcoin at a pool through the Tor network. If you have powerful bitcoin mining hardware, you can set up your mining rig to mine through the Tor network. Alternatively, you can mine other cryptocurrencies through the Tor network and convert to Bitcoin later. You can learn how to do that here.
Using this method, you are not necessarily buying Bitcoin anonymously, rather, you are mining Bitcoin anonymously.
Important Things to Remember
Using the methods mentioned above cannot guarantee anonymity. There are so many other ways to track you. For example, when you visit a website, your IP address can be recorded and used to map your location. The data files stored on your browser – cookies have unique IDs. These can track you. Keystroke profiling or profiling based on your screen size and extensions on your browser is another way to track you. There are so many steps you could take to stay anonymous and so many ways to break your anonymity. You will have to use a number of tools to stay completely anonymous; but even then, anonymity is not a guarantee. Check out this video to learn how you are tracked online and what you can do about it.
Bitcoin is no longer anonymous. If someone links your real-world identity to your bitcoin address, they can track your activity. Above mentioned methods are some of the ways to minimize the chances of someone tracking your Bitcoin. If you are serious about staying anonymous, you are better off using a privacy coin like Monero, Dash, or GRIN.