Bitcoin (BTC) plus the sharing economy is going to change everything

I’m two years out of college and intern as a developer at a big-time NYC finance company. I have a bank account, digital wallet, two debit cards, little to no credit, and zero savings. I also have to pay off debt from college, which would take me around 10 to 20 years to do. However, that all changed when I got an email from an old friend. 

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I got an invite to join Paxful from my friend Lee. He casually mentioned that he was making around 10,000 USD a month by just trading Bitcoin. My journey started as soon as I asked how he achieved such a feat. 

I quickly learned what we can do with our money and financial tools like banks and digital wallets. By the end of the year—with how the volume and my cash buffer were growing—I expected to crack six figures and pay off debt. That isn’t bad at all for a side gig. This is why I love the sharing economy and why Bitcoin is my new obsession.

Conventional exchange volume is down but bitcoin peer to peer volume is way way up, thanks to folks like me jumping in and the extreme demand for bitcoin.

Conventional exchange volume is down but bitcoin peer-to-peer volume is way way up, thanks to folks like me jumping in and the extreme demand for bitcoin.

I’m learning how to code, but I’m no numbers whiz or trading prodigy. I can barely read a chart to save my life, but this isn’t about that. It’s more of a people thing with basic arithmetic—and it’s a lot of fun. 

A typical day selling Bitcoin

I choose cash deposit to bank for my payment method and I always have enough BTC in my Paxful wallet to cover the maximum range of my trades (which is at around 2,000 USD right now). Buyers can then stumble upon my offer by browsing and searching on Paxful. I even share my offers on my social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 

If there’s a bank nearby, buyers will start looking over my offer. They then deposit the cash, upload a picture of their receipt, and mark the trade as paid. If ever they need any help, I’m always there guiding them through the live chat. As soon as I see their payment reflect on my online banking app, I instantly release the BTC from escrow to them. After receiving an SMS alert from Paxful, it takes me about 10 minutes to do this on my phone. The buyer then gets their BTC in under an hour and I earn profit anywhere from 7% to 20%. 

At first, I did this every week because I didn’t have a quick, low-cost way to buy Bitcoin myself. However, as I began making connections with other traders on Paxful, I found avenues to buy BTC at 2.5% to 5% margins. As the cash buffer builds, I don’t have to buy back so often.

The escrow system gives the buyer confidence that the BTC is there. The reputation system provides the seller’s reliability. Basically, it’s a lot like Amazon for trading Bitcoin—more of a marketplace than an exchange because you deal with other people directly. 

There’s a ton of room for experimentation and figuring out new “trade routes.” Lee told me how he now makes money whenever he has to move money into his American bank account. We now both trade on Paxful and are trying new things and sharing notes. Lee has eventually become one of the top traders in Korea and is making well over six figures in profit a year for a few hours a week of work—all of it online trading Bitcoin. 

Once I saw how real this all was, I started telling my friends how they could do it too to pay off debt. Most of them ignored my messages, but the ones who tried were immediately hooked. I’ve had to explain the process so many times to curious friends that I decided to write a walkthrough to guide newbie traders from start to finish. 

Buying your first Bitcoin

If you’ve already got BTC, then you can start selling it right away by creating a sell offer. If not, you can always look on the marketplace for a reliable buyer with a good rate. Remember: the less you pay, the more you can earn. It’s good to go through the process yourself because this is what your buyers will be going through. 

I recommend using the cash deposit to bank payment option with a low premium for your first trade. Look for the payment method of a bank that’s closest to you and pick one with the lowest price. If you want an idea of how much they’re selling over market price, you can always check the percentages shown on the offer. 

Next, look at the reputation score of the vendor—the higher the score, the better. Read the terms of their offer to see if they have any special instructions for you to follow. Once it all looks good, type in how much BTC you want to buy and then click Buy now

The payment window is how much time you have to complete the trade. In this case, it’s how long you have to deposit the cash into the vendor’s bank account. As soon as the trade starts, the live chat will be available to you should you have any questions. Once you’ve sent in your payment, mark the trade as Paid and wait for the seller to release the Bitcoin. After that, the BTC will go into your wallet—waiting to be sold for profit or sent anywhere. 

Creating an offer

Now, it’s time for you to earn your first profit. The first step is to create a Sell offer. The biggest things you need to think about here are:

  • Payment method – If you have a bank account with branches all over the country, that could be a good option—but feel free to choose whatever fits your needs. 
  • Payment window – This is how much time you’re giving for your buyer to pay. I usually leave it at three hours to give them a lot of time, but most folks want their Bitcoins fast, so they drive out right away and are back in less than an hour.
  • Price – Browse the current sell offers for your payment method and currency and compare the prices that are there. Try setting your price in the middle—between lowest and highest—but start on the higher side first. People would gladly pay for a solid and fast trader.
  • Limits – This is the minimum and maximum Bitcoin you can sell. I started with 100-300 USD, but now I do 1,000-2,500 USD. 

The last step is to click Create Offer and it’ll be live. If you want to manage your offers closely, you can check them out on your dashboard. 

Selling your BTC for the first time

Let’s say you made your first offer, got out of the house, and then all of a sudden, you get the SMS alert. Go to your dashboard immediately and you’ll see that your offer is now listed in Active Trades. Click on it and say hi to your buyer. 

The live chat is a great feature and being responsive can really put the buyer at ease. Answer their questions, explain the process to them, and politely let them know that there’s a set time limit. Of course, they’ll see all of that on screen, but any help you can give them could make them feel more comfortable. 

As soon as they mark the trade as paid, verify their payment. In this case, it would be via your online banking app and through the documents, you asked them to upload. If everything looks good, click Release Bitcoin and the trade is complete. Now, all you have to do is leave feedback. 

Tips for new traders

Throughout my journey on this platform, I’ve learned a lot. Here are seven tips I can share for those just getting started: 

  1. Verify your phone
    The SMS messages you get are critical if you want to trade quickly. People who come to Paxful are often looking to buy Bitcoin instantly and they might just try another trader if you don’t respond right away.
  2. Be active
    You’ll want that tiny green dot next to your username on your offer so that buyers will know you’re there and ready to trade.
  3. Monitor the market
    If you set an offer with a 20% markup and everyone else is doing 7% for the same payment method and currency, no one’s going to want to buy from you. If you set it at 7% while everyone is doing 20%, you’ll be missing out. Browse around and keep tabs on the market—it’s a living, breathing place and the most aware make the most.
  4. Be chatty and alert
    New traders are often anxious and worried. Being nice and chatty really helps calm them down and makes it go much faster. Always be professional—no slang, no cursing, and no weird usernames.
  5. Repeat business
    Being friendly means repeat business, and repeat business is good if you want to build healthy trading relationships. Around 30% of my buyers now are repeat buyers and this ratio grows the more I sell.
  6. Advertising
    Paxful has a steady stream of new buyers consistently hitting the site. Still, you can help it along by doing your part on your socials. I post the link to my offers on Twitter, Facebook, and even other Bitcoin-related pages. You can even send your affiliate link to make even more as they trade.
  7. Polish your offer
    Take the time to make your offer terms professional, comprehensive, and straightforward. This is the text that buyers see right before they decided whether or not to accept your offer. Put yourself in their position and show them everything they need. 

The next chapter

The sharing economy has a whole new chapter now. If you can’t pay off debt or pay for your rent, you can still make money just by helping people get Bitcoin. I never got into mining, laughing at the idea of Bitcoin when my college roommates suggested it back in 2011. Now, I feel like I’m part of a whole new Gold Rush and I get to be a part of the bigger picture.

Notice: I am now a mod on Paxful and perhaps soon an arbitrator.