Bitcoin is a virtual currency or “cryptocurrency” which has been around since 2009. Unlike other “fiat” mainstream currencies such as the US Dollar and the Euro, Bitcoin does not exist in paper or coin form.
There is a fixed supply of 21 million Bitcoins. However, it is estimated that only 4.2 million Bitcoins are in constant circulation. It is estimated that the number of UK adults who hold cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin has risen to an estimated 2.3 million. We have no figures for Ireland – but the UK figure equates to about 4.4% of UK adults. If this was the same in Ireland it would mean there could be about 154,00 crypto owners in Ireland.
There are now several other cryptocurrencies in existence – some of the most popular include Ethereum, Litecoin Ripple, Dogecoin, Cardano and Stellar. Find out where you can buy Dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies in Ireland
The Price of Bitcoin
During 2020 and the first few weeks of 2021 the value of Bitcoin rocketed as demand for it increased.
Investment strategists at JP Morgan put out a note to clients in early January 2021, suggesting that Bitcoin may ultimately reach $146,000 over the long term.
In March 2021 , it was revealed that Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin.
Tesla added Bitcoin as a payment option in mid-March 2021 and also said they would hold the Bitcoin it earns from car sales for the long-term.
At the start of 2020 one Bitcoin was worth around $8000. On April 13th 2021 – the price of Bitcoin hit a new high of $63,000 USD.
There have been several big fluctuations in the price of Bitcoin since April 2021. The price of Bitcoin fell over several days in May , then on May 19th, it fell quickly at one point by 30% to around $30,000. However, the price then quickly recovered within hours to around $40,000. The sudden fall was mainly due to Chinese financial industry regulators announcing that banks and payment firms were not allowed to offer clients any services involving cryptocurrencies.
On July 26th there was a sharp rise in the price of Bitcoin after it was revealed that Amazon was going to start accepting Bitcoin as a payment method by the end of 2021. Bitcoin rose close to $40,000 on July 26th .
On September 6th , the Bitcoin price hit $52,000 before crashing to around $42,000.
By September 12th 2021 – the price of Bitcoin was hovering around $46,500 USD.
You can check the current price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies here.
Where to Buy Bitcoin in Ireland
First of all – we must point out that investing in Bitcoin, or any cryptocurrency , involves a risk of loss.
Cryptoassets are highly volatile unregulated investment products with no EU investor protection.
However, if you are buying Bitcoin it is probably best to stick to large, established exchanges that have been around for a while and have verified links to other major financial companies.
Avoid any of the potential scams such as “Bitcoin Loophole” or any similar sites offering guarantees of making money. Many of these scam sites use fake adverts on social media using pictures of well-known people such as Dragons Den stars. Also – avoid getting involved with any cryptocurrency scammers who make contact by sending an email or with a cold call promising big returns on investment.
Listed below are some of the major global crypto trading platforms that can be used in Ireland.
Etoro is a well established online trading platform where you can trade in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, stocks, CFDs and commodities.
Since being founded in 2006, eToro has grown to become one of the biggest crypto trading platforms with operations in over 140 countries.
eToro allows users to trade thousands of financial instruments, including over a dozen cryptocurrencies.
Based on the concept of social trading, eToro is designed to be accessible to new and seasoned traders alike.
When buying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on eToro, the only trading fees charged are the spreads – eg. 0.75% on Bitcoin and 1.9% on Ethereum.
Bitcoin can be purchased fractionally on Etoro, so you don’t need to buy a full Bitcoin to own some. For example, if Bitcoin’s price was $50,000, you could purchase 0.001 Bitcoin for $50. The minimum crypto purchase on eToro is $25 USD .
Dogecoin is now also available to trade on Etoro.
Etoro only allows trades in US dollars – which means any Euro deposits have to be converted to dollars. They charge a 0.5% conversion fee from Euro to dollars on deposit and again on withdrawal from US Dollars to Euro
Etoro reduced the minimum deposit required by Irish customers from $200 to just $50 in August 2021.
Etoro accepts payment by debit card as well as bank transfer and Paypal.
To avoid the Etoro conversion fees you could deposit US Dollars using a debit card from N26. (Etoro say they do not accept USD payments from Revolut ).
The exchange rate used by N26 will be the standard Mastercard rate with no extra fees. It should also be possible to withdraw US dollars from Etoro to the N26 card to avoid the 0.5% fee – but we are not 100% certain of this.
You could use any Irish bank debit card – but the main Irish banks will all charge fees of around 2% (but this is capped at about €11). N26 has no conversion fees.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) can be transferred from the eToro platform to an eToro Wallet where they will be more secure.
Currently, eToro is regulated by the Cyprus Securities & Exchange Commission (CySEC)
Note : 67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Etoro. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Cryptoassets are highly volatile unregulated investment products with no EU investor protection.
Coinbase is another major online exchange that can be used in Ireland to buy and hold Bitcoin.
Coinbase was set up in San Francisco in 2012 and now has more than 30 million users. The company floated on the NASDAQ stock exchange in mid-April 2021.
Coinbase can be used in Ireland to buy and sell several cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin.
On Coinbase you can buy fractional Bitcoin in increments as little as 2 Euros.
The EU head office of Coinbase is in Ireland (Dublin) and Coinbase Ireland Limited is authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland as an electronic money institution (fiat currencies).
Coinbase is backed by Spanish bank BBVA and the New York Stock Exchange and it was the first crypto company to become a principal member of Visa.
Coinbase Debit Card
Coinbase customers can apply for a Coinbase Visa debit card which they say “makes crypto as spendable as the money in your bank.” There is a 2.49% fee to convert crypto to Euros. Coinbase Card customers are able to spend their crypto from eight different wallets: BTC, ETH, LTC, BCH, BAT, REP, ZRX, and XLM. It comes with an app and the card works with Google Pay and Apple Pay . The Coinbase card is issued by Paysafe Prepaid Services Limited which is also authorized by the Central Bank of Ireland.
Coinbase accepts payments by bank transfer, credit card or debit card, as well as PayPal .
- Bitcoin purchases by bank transfer are charged a 1.49% fee.
- Credit and debit card Bitcoin purchases are charged a 3.99% fee. (Fees may differ outside Europe).
Coinbase also charges a spread of about 0.50% for cryptocurrency purchases and cryptocurrency sales.
Coinbase does not charge a fee to use its wallet service but there are fees when you buy and sell Bitcoin.
Important – Bitcoin and other cryptoassets are highly volatile unregulated investment products. There is no EU investor protection.
Gemini is a large cryptocurrency exchange based in New York. It was founded in 2015 by the Winklevoss twins, best-known for their legal dispute with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Gemini is regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS).
In the UK, Gemini is Licenced as an Electronic Money Institution license by the FCA and it is one of the very few companies that is an FCA registered crypto assets company. This doesn’t cover Ireland nor does it mean that crypto funds are protected – but it does mean they have complied with UK anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing rules.
Irish customers of Gemini can use bank transfers in Euro or GBP to deposit money with Gemini for free.
Debit cards can also be used to buy Bitcoin with Gemini, but there is a 3.49% fee.
Transaction fees at Gemini for crypto purchases depend on the size of the transaction.
The fee is 1.49% on transactions of €200 or more, but on smaller transactions, there is a flat rate charge.
€1 for orders under €10 euro; ; €1.50 on orders between €10 an €25 ; €2 on orders between €25 and €50 , €3 on orders between €50 and €200.
Gemini also adds a 0.5% ” convenience fee” to the prevailing price when buying crypto.
It is also possible to earn interest on Bitcoin you hold with Gemini (Currently 3.05%) . This is not automatic, you have to opt in to “Gemini Earn”.
Fees example at Gemini:
If the prevailing market price of BTC was $40000 USD – you will be quoted a price of $40200 USD to buy 1 BTC.
(This includes the 0.5% convenience fee)
If you were then to buy €100 of BTC with EUR the transaction fee would be €3 EUR.
Gemini certainly makes a great Coinbase alternative for those who are getting more serious about trading digital assets, rather than just investing.
Buying Shares in Bitcoin Trackers on DEGIRO
If you want a method of investing or speculating on the value of Bitcoin – but without actually owning any or worrying about virtual wallets – you can buy shares in a Bitcoin tracker from a stockbroker.
The cheapest way to do this in Ireland is with an established online stockbroker such as DEGIRO.
Currently, there is just one Bitcoin Tracker available on Degiro in Ireland. This is the “21 Shares Bitcoin ETP” (ZZUG).
It’s available on the Frankfurt stock exchange (XET) and “seeks to track the investment results of Bitcoin” .
This type of tracker is classed as a high-risk investment.
A Bitcoin tracker can give investors exposure to Bitcoin without the overhead of managing the security and custody of private keys.
DEGIRO’s low fees make this type of Bitcoin investment fairly affordable.
Another option might be to buy shares in the company Bitcoin Group SE.
This German company is a holding company focused on innovative technologies in the areas of cryptocurrency and blockchain.
Bitcoin Group SE owns 100% of the shares in Bitcoin Deutschland AG, which operates Germany’s only authorized trading centre for the digital currency Bitcoin.
Buying COINBASE shares on Degiro would be another way to invest indirectly in the Bitcoin and Crypto industry.
Please note that Investing involves risk of loss.
Revolut and Bitcoin
Revolut customers can buy, hold and sell Bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies.
Revolut didn’t initially allow the transfer of cryptocurrencies in or out of Revolut – but sinceearly May 2021 – it seems that Metal account holders can transfer crypto out of Revolut (with some limits) .
Bitcoin can also be purchased fractionally on Revolut.
So, if you want a way to invest in Bitcoin and speculate on the price – Revolut is an option. (Again – there is always a high risk of loss)
The exchange rate on Revolut for cryptocurrencies is 2.5% for Standard users and 1.5% for Premium and Metal users.
Revolut says that the cryptocurrency they buy for you is held in a ‘virtual account’ that also holds cryptocurrencies for other Revolut customers.
You will not have a separate cryptocurrency account.
It is free to join Revolut.
Some information about Taxation of Cryptocurrency in Ireland