Financial privacy and anonymity were two of the most celebrated benefits of Bitcoin when it was first invented, but due to ever-tightening regulations, it is tough to purchase Bitcoin anonymously across most of the world today.
Although difficult, it is still possible to grow your BTC stack without the authorities finding out. This article unpacks how you can buy Bitcoin anonymously in 2023.
You can purchase Bitcoin anonymously online using a cryptocurrency exchange that doesn’t require verification. You can access it online with a computer, smartphone, or tablet. See below for our top picks of platforms that offer Bitcoin and simple steps to buy Bitcoin anonymously.
Your first step is to sign up with a crypto exchange that does not require identity verification. These are few and far between these days, but our recommended platform, YoBit, has no Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements.
Next up, make a deposit into your YoBit account. You can make deposits in either USD or RUR, so be sure to choose a payment method that gives you a good conversion rate.
Next up, find the Bitcoin trading pair with the fiat currency you deposited (either BTC/USD or BTC/RUR on YoBit, or BTC/EUR with Relai). Enter the amount of Bitcoin you would like to buy, check you are happy with the proposed fees, and complete the trade.
Your Bitcoin will now be available to withdraw from your YoBit wallet—for maximum privacy and security, we recommend withdrawing it to a private wallet (preferably a hardware wallet) as soon as you can.
YoBit is our top choice for buying Bitcoin anonymously, but you can use any non-KYC platform. These are pretty rare, especially those that offer fiat transactions. Another option for European users is Relai.
One alternative to using a centralised exchange like YoBit is to use a peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange like Bisq to buy Bitcoin without ID. On these platforms, you make a payment to another individual who then sends the Bitcoin to you directly, without going through an exchange.
While this does preserve privacy, as no ID verification is required most of the time, it can be riskier than using a trusted exchange like YoBit or Relai, as you never know who you are transacting with on the other side of the P2P platform.
Buying BTC without ID has some obvious pros, but there are some drawbacks to buying Bitcoin this way as well. We’ll take a look at both the positive and negative factors here.
Privacy pays. Without KYC checks, governments or other authorities can’t track your Bitcoin purchases as easily.
Cypherpunk values. Preserving privacy is one of the central tenets of the cypherpunk movement, out of which Bitcoin was created. By buying Bitcoin anonymously, you are arguably supporting the principles upon which Bitcoin was founded.
Anonymity is not guaranteed. Blockchain analysis and other forensic techniques are becoming more and more sophisticated as time goes on, so you should never consider yourself to be totally anonymous without ensuring the operational security (OpSec) of your whole setup. This could include CoinJoining, using Tor/VPNs, and other practices. Jameson Lopp has a range of Bitcoin privacy guides that can help with these best practices.
Extra costs. Trading in low liquidity markets and P2P marketplaces can lead to higher prices when buying BTC compared to centralised, regulated exchanges.
Added risks. Buying from a P2P platform or an unregulated platform means you are not well protected by law, so exercise caution and common sense at all times.
Fees normally relate to specific payment methods, but there are some extra costs you can expect to face when buying Bitcoin anonymously.
You are unlikely to pay fees other than the standard commission, usually between 0.5% and 3% depending on the exchange, and a payment method fee if applicable.
If you are buying in a low liquidity fiat market, such as the USD and RUR pairs found on YoBit, spreads can be wider than high volume markets, meaning that you are liable to pay more than the normal market rate on an exchange like Binance or Coinbase.
Additionally, if you are buying from a P2P marketplace, the individual seller you choose to transact with will set the price. Anonymity typically commands a premium, meaning you will almost always pay a few percent over the market rate on these exchanges. You can consider this a sort of “privacy fee”.
Ultimately, you will know pretty quickly whether or not buying Bitcoin anonymously is for you. If you value (or, indeed, require) financial privacy, then you are likely to be OK with paying slightly over the odds to add to your Bitcoin stack anonymously.
However, if you are OK with the authorities being able to trace your Bitcoin purchases and sales, it is probably a better idea to go for one of our recommended regulated exchanges, where you will pay a slightly lower price for your Bitcoin.