How to Open a Bitcoin Account

Install a wallet and create an exchange account to get started with Bitcoin.
... Adam Gault/Photodisc/Getty Images

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency network with no centralized locus of control. To trade in Bitcoin currency, you need to first install a secure Bitcoin wallet application on your computer or device. You can also use the Bitcoin Web browser apps, but these programs are much less robust and secure because your Bitcoins are stored in the browser itself. After you install a wallet, create a Bitcoin account with a Bitcoin exchange service. Finally, link your wallet with your exchange account to make your funds available in the wallet application. You are then ready to conduct transactions with Bitcoin.

1 Install Wallet

2 Open the Bitcoin site

Open the Bitcoin site in a Web browser and click the “Get Started With Bitcoin” graphic to open the Getting Started screen.

3 Click the Read More option

Click the “Read More” option to review the details of Bitcoin and your new account. Click the browser “Back” button to return to the Getting Started screen.

4 Click the Choose Your Wallet option

Click the “Choose Your Wallet” option to open the Choose Your Wallet screen.

5 Click the MultiBit link

Click the “MultiBit” link to download the Windows, Mac or Linux client. The MultiBit home page opens.

6 Click the Windows Installer link

Click the “Windows Installer” link in the right panel, and then save the EXE file to your hard drive. Double-click the EXE file to launch the installation routine. If Java is not installed on your computer, a dialog box opens prompting you to click “OK” to install Java.

7 Click OK

Click “OK,” and then click “Install.” Click “Next” to download and install Java. When the installation is complete, close the Java installation wizard. Double-click the MultiBit installation file to restart the wizard if you installed Java. Click “Next” twice to reveal the terms and conditions document.

8 Click the I Accept the Terms of This License Agreement

Click the “I Accept the Terms of This License Agreement,” and then click “Next” to continue.

9 Verify the destination for the MultiBit installation

Verify the destination for the MultiBit installation, and then click “Next.”

10 Click three times

Click “Next” three times to install the wallet application. Click “Done” when the installation completes.

11 Create Exchange Account

12 Getting Started screen

Return to the Bitcoin Getting Started screen and click the “Find an Exchange” option. Type your country, and then press “Enter” to open a list of Bitcoin exchanges available to you. Each exchange entry includes a "Buy Bitcoins" button. All exchanges charge the current market rate for Bitcoins, and all charge comparable fees. Select the exchange site that you find easiest to use.

13 Click the Buy Bitcoins option

Click the “Buy Bitcoins” option for your selected exchange to open the exchange site in a new browser tab.

14 Click the Sign Up Now

Click the “Sign Up Now,” “Register" or “Create Account” option to create an account for the exchange. The Registration form opens.

15 Complete the Registration form with your username

Complete the Registration form with your username, password, email address and any additional required information.

16 Click Submit or Register

Click “Submit” or “Register” to submit the form.

17 Verify your email address

Verify your email address by checking your email and opening the new message from the exchange. Click the verification link, or copy and paste the link in the browser address bar to confirm your email address.

18 Log

Log in to the exchange site with your username and password. Complete the account verification process. Most exchanges require you to confirm your phone number and bank account information. A few exchanges allow you to use a credit card instead of a bank account, but most require a U.S. bank account.

19 Click the Verify Phone Number

Click the "Verify Phone Number" to open the Phone Verification screen. Type your phone number in the Phone Number field, and then select whether you want to receive a call or text message. Click "Submit" or "OK."

20 Check your phone for an SMS message

Check your phone for an SMS message, or answer your phone when it rings. Type the verification number provided to you in the Verification input box. Click "Submit" or "OK." Your phone number is verified.

21 Click the Verify Bank Account

Click the "Verify Bank Account" or similar link or option. Type your checking or savings account routing number and account number in the respective fields. Some exchanges are equipped to verify your account information online. Others make two small deposits into your account. You must log back in within two to three days to record the amounts of the deposits. Once confirmed, your bank account is verified.

22 Click the Purchase Bitcoins

Log in to your exchange account and click the "Purchase Bitcoins," "Buy Bitcoins" or similar option to add Bitcoins to your exchange account. The purchasing form opens. Type the number of Bitcoins to purchase, and then click "OK" or "Submit." The Bitcoins are transferred to your exchange account, and the current market price for the purchased quantity is deducted from your bank account.

23 Link Wallet With Exchange

24 Launch the MultiBit wallet application

Launch the MultiBit wallet application, and then click the “Request” tab. Click the “Copy” icon on the right side of the Your Address field. This action copies your Wallet Address to the clipboard so that you can supply the string to your Bitcoin exchange. The string authenticates your wallet.

25 Open a Web browser

Open a Web browser and log in to your Bitcoin exchange account.

26 Click the Verify Wallet

Click the “Verify Wallet,” “Link Wallet” or similar option.

27 Right-click inside the verification field

Right-click inside the verification field, and then click “Paste” to paste your Wallet Address in the field. Click “Submit" or “OK." Your Bitcoin account is now open and ready to trade. Your funds are available in your wallet.

  • Click the “Bitcoin Wallet” option in the Choose Your Wallet page to install the client on an Android device. The link refers you to the Bitcoin Wallet app listing in Google Play. Install the app on your Android device to use Bitcoin from your tablet or phone.
  • You can purchase Bitcoins from multiple exchanges, if desired.
  • You can trade Bitcoins through personal transactions with friends and family and use the currency to purchase goods from merchants who accept Bitcoin.

Randall Blackburn has worked for several Fortune 1000 companies as a technical writer over the past seven years. He has produced a wide variety of technical documentation, including detailed programming specifications and research papers. Randall has also acquired several years' experience writing web content. Randall lives and works in Austin, TX.