We received a question in our Q & A Forum recently on whether it’s possible to buy and sell Bitcoin in Cuenca.
The short answer is yes, it’s possible. But, this comes with some substantial caveats. Let’s dig right in.
What are the different options for buying and selling Bitcoin in Cuenca?
You’ll most likely find the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets are still relatively immature throughout Ecuador. Cuenca is no exception.
Whilst there are some signs of change, adoption of technology in Ecuador does tend to be slower than many expats would like. For example, try to find your favorite local business on a website, you’ll likely struggle as websites are seen as difficult and expensive.
This limits your buying, selling, and online trading options in Ecuador.
Here are the options we’ve been able to find:
1. The Bitcoin Shop
This is basically your regular little corner shop that is owned by a Bitcoin trader. Nothing fancy, but I’ve found it to be a good solution for converting Bitcoin to USD.
Thanks to the various Bitcoin signs, it’s pretty easy to spot next time you’re in the area of Parque San Sebas.
The owner charges a reasonable 5% commission based on the current market price. For example, say you want to sell $1K worth of Bitcoin. For this, you’ll transfer $1,050 worth of Bitcoin (after transfer fees) to him at the current market price.
You’ll then wait in his shop for the transactions to be confirmed. This can take a while depending on the current network speeds and where you’re transferring from. The owner uses a Coinbase account, so if you’re also using Coinbase, then these transactions generally don’t take long.
But, don’t just turn up and expect to be able to sell large amounts (ie $1K or more). He requires 24 hours notice for these types of amounts.
And we always recommend trading smaller amounts until you’re comfortable with the process and the other party. If you’re nervous about making your 1st trade (especially if you’re still learning Spanish), then do feel free to get in contact with us and we can try to help with your 1st trade.
Bitcoin Shop is located at Simón Bolívar 14-106, Cuenca (“Mi Pan” in Google Maps).
2. Local Bitcoins
This is an online option, so it’s not limited to Cuenca. You will need an Ecuadorian bank account and proof of ID such as a cedula. This option can be very convenient as you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
The steps are fairly straightforward:
- Register account at Local Bitcoins
- Verify your identity
- Either respond to existing buy/sell offers or create your own offers
- Transact directly with the other party, using Local Bitcoins escrow service to help avoid fraud
Tips for avoiding fraud on Local Bitcoins
Even though Local Bitcoins tries its best to limit fraud through their escrow service, you still need to be very careful. This is particularly so when you’re new to the platform as this tends to be when you’ll be targetted the most.
Be very wary of any 3rd party transfers
Make sure you obtain the ID of the other party to ensure it matches their bank account details. If it doesn’t, then you’re at risk of transferring to an unknown party and you’ll have no recourse should the trade turn ugly.
Even though 3rd party transfers are against Local Bitcoin’s policy, we’ve found many people still try to push them through.
Check history of person you’re trading with
Whilst past performance doesn’t guarantee future performance, we always recommend viewing their trading history and feedback. Be very cautious of new accounts that have a perfect trading history as these may not be genuine.
We suggest testing the waters with any new trader. There are some very good Ecuadorian traders on Local Bitcoins, but they can be a little difficult to find at first. Get a feel for each person you’re trading with before slowly increasing your trading amounts.
This is also an online option available throughout Ecuador. To my knowledge, Capitalika is the only traditional crypto exchange available in Ecuador.
I haven’t personally used this option lately as the fees are generally higher than the first two methods. But, we’re including here as an option for those that prefer to trade with an exchange, rather than with individuals.
They do occasionally have some good offers where they reduce the commissions when converting Bitcoin to fiat. We suggest this would be the best time to try this exchange.
Have you uncovered any other options for trading Bitcoin in Cuenca? We’d love to hear about them in the comments. Or maybe you have a local crypto meetup that you’d like to add to our events platform? If so, feel free to upload it here.
Good luck and always keep your Bitcoin stored safely in a hard wallet. Remember, not your keys, not your coins!