The Absurdly Un-Anonymous ID Required To Buy Anonymous Bitcoins
So. We all know about Bitcoin, right? The new magic currency-beans that enable you to make seamless and anonymous transactions across borders, integrating smoothly with real-world commerce. And which has an exchange value of about $1000/BTC*, being entirely accurately & rationally matched across all different exchanges to the same rate without wild +/-25% variations for arbitrage. *Actual dollar value can, and will, randomly vary +/-50%
Anyway, let’s assume that Johnny Fiat-Currency wants in to this brave new world, and wants to buy some BTC. To, say, make an anonymised payment to a VPN provider. Because that’s what BTC should be for, right? Let’s also assume Johnny is a UK resident, doesn’t know about mining, doesn’t know what SHA-256 is, doesn’t really want to randomly lose £50, and has been well taught by teh kidz that you don’t post personal info on-line.
Basically, Johnny’s my Grandma (what? fuck the system, man) – because BTC needs to be accessible to these people, else the current “exchange values” really are just so much obscurantist hubris.
So Johnny goes to Google, and she finds the (current) most obvious way to try and buy some of these BTC with actual money in the UK. And she decides it’s this site. It kinda looks legit, because “SSL-secured” logo JPGs aren’t especially easy to just arbitrarily paste into a dumb HTML2 site, and anyway Johnny’s girl-pals down the old folks’ home tea-room just nod and say “oooh, that’s nice” when asked for an opinion.
After a bit, our heroine twigs that she’s going to have to make some sort of account on this site. Else these BTC sellers, who appear to exist, won’t be able to build up any trust. “Fine”, she says. “Anonymous web accounts are just standard practice. Obviously I’m not going to have a high trust rating first-off because I’m a n00b, but how else can I get started”.
And on we trundle.
– “I wonder what sort of payment mechanisms I can use to actually submit my hard-earned pension”
Well, Johnny, you’re kinda limited. Credit cards are an outright no-no, apparently; PayPal too; there are a few Russian “e-currency” methods; or, a regular UK bank transfer.
– “Ooooh, bank transfer. That’s probably safe, right? I mean, I’m just putting pounds into this thing, to give to these sellers, rather than giving them permission to take money out *sips tea, has a bit of a nap*”
Not quite. The seller has to receive your bank transfer into a regular account of their own. (Remember – banks are evil). And banks really don’t like fraud. And because most things with the word “Bitcoin” in might be fraud, then the act of labelling your bank transfer with “BTC” or the word “BITCOIN” or anything else will, apparently, “get the seller’s bank account closed” [sic.]. And this, then, just labelling your money transfer with a rational and correct label for your (and your bank’s) records, is an insta-ban crime which will get your ID permanently kicked off the site.
– “…. oh. And, um, wait, what? You said ‘ID’. This is all anonymous, right?”
No. No, it isn’t. Because, once you expose the imagino-value of BTC to actual currency, then all sorts of sketchy characters pop up. And this trading site, this BTC-point-man of the UK at the vanguard of free anonymous global finance, requires an awful lot of ID:
- Photo ID
- Photograph of additional ID with address verification
- Photograph of you, personally, physically holding up your photo ID
- .. with your elbows showing, else no-go-potato
.. see the image below. Basically, about as much ID as, and possibly more than, is required to get, say, a valid passport – or a bank account. And bank accounts don’t go +/-50% value in a day. (Except in the EU, but that’s another story, and Grandma’s fallen asleep again.)