Tuesday, December 17, 2013

LocalBitcoins Coupons - The Most Hassle-Free Way of Distributing Bitcoins to the People

We have introduced a new feature to LocalBitcoins, redeemable coupons. These are great for selling bitcoins with cash to your friends, or even for larger audience. Why do these coupons rock? Reasons below:
  • Denominated in local currency, such as EUR, USD, CNY etc. The amount of BTC is determined at the time of redeem. No need for calculations at the time of trade. The rate can be examined at charts.localbitcoins.com - however seller premium might be added on top of that.
  • Buyer doesn't need internet connection at the spot. Coupon can be redeemed at home/internet cafe or easily with a smartphone. SMS redeem option coming.
  • Approved LocalBitcoins traders can create, resell & redistribute the coupons (application form). The coupons are issued by invidual traders.
The redeem rate is tied up to localbitcoins_sell variable, which accounts for 24 hour market volatility. This makes it safe for the seller, but also fair for the buyer. The seller can specify premium on top of the rate, which is simple percentual fee.

The buyer can verify the validity and rate of the coupon using the verify QR code or address, and redeem the coupon using the redeem QR code or address. Redeeming can be done by just typing LocalBitcoins username, without logging in.

Also necessary customer identification can be done on the spot when coupon is sold, so that the customer doesn't need to upload any documents etc online. This makes the risk of security issues and identity theft smaller.

The traders who have a pro trader badge can already issue coupons. For others, there is an application form.



We really believe this feature can change the Bitcoin sales on areas where smartphones are not that common yet, and where internet connectivity might be lacking. Happy trading!

#BitcoinAfrica proceeds to Namibia!


Namibia seemed to be easy cake to find a Bitcoin trader in, since there was a Bitcoin enthusiast already there.

"Yesterday we managed to do another trade with a Namibian guy, he said that is following all the stories of the trip through your magazine since we started. He took some pictures of our bikes to proof with his friends that it was all real.

He told us that is convincing all his friends to start using bitcoin and after this it would be easier."

Cool story Bro! Next up is South Africa.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

#BitcoinAfrica reaches Angola and Cameroon!

So our Bitcoin heroes on motorcycke, Borja and Elvis, have managed succesfully to do two new exchanges in Africa! Story below.


"Greetings from Angola!

It's been a while since we shared our stories. We had difficult days, tiredness and lack of Internet.
But now I will share the experiences we had in the last 6 countries :)

Last update was in Cotonou (Benin), we headed north in the next morning as we wanted to cross to Nigeria, the shortest way was just beside to Lagos but we wanted to avoid some unpleasant experiences so we did an extra 400KM and get to know Benin.
We visited the Kings Royal Palaces in Abomey, 13 palaces in total and 2 available to visit. I was amazed in finding quite a lot of canons and artifacts that were traded by the Portuguese.

After the visit we drove north and do as many km we could, that night we slept in the back of a very important church, something like the Vatican of west Africa, without even knowing. We were very well received and the Priest was very friendly.

Next day after a long and dusty ride we arrived in Nigeria, very small border and friendly police, quick pass but then the roads changed.
We planned to drive another 200 KM but was no road so we managed another 60 Km until we found a very small village and the friendly people invited us to sleep in the Primary School in one of the class room. No much sleep that night, 5 AM we already had some curious visitors, there were missing some windows.

We were amazed with Nigeria, a country that all the people told us not to get in, very friendly people and helpful.
After managing all the non existing roads and arrived to the Tarmac but it was worst then before, I had 4 punctures in 1 day.

But then things changed, we arrived to Abuja, the capital. It was like being in another country, quite developed and very rich people, completely the opposite of the rest of Nigeria.
We stayed 2 days as we needed to find tyres, we met Francis the Gym manager of the hotel, who also loves bikes, he helped us finding the tyres and show us the city and we had a few beers with him and his friends.
Next day all of them join us with their bikes for 60Km, I don't know how they are still alive.

So we starting heading to Cameroon, it took us 1 day. Following day we cross the border with no hassle and friendly police and people but the roads changed again. Rainy season and no Tarmac, you can imagine.

The landscape changed radically, we entered the jungle, 30/40 meters trees it was very dense and beautiful.

After 2 days we arrived to civilization, Douala where we did our fourth bitcoin exchange :) Thanks to our bitcoin contact in Mali, he introduced us Dani who was interested in exchanging. Dani was kind and pay us the bitcoin in advance as we had some technical problems, we made a good friend and spend the weekend "resting".

So it was time to go east and find some Gorilas, we visit them in Lobéké. We spent 2 days in the Jungle and what an adventure, some heavy storm to make it a bit better.
So far was our favorite experience in all the trip.
As we were in the middle of nowhere, the closest bank was 400km away and due some expenses we didn't predict we run out of money.
People told us the next one was just 60Km away and for sure we will find it. Not! No ATM and it was not even a bank. It was just a money gram/western union agent, pity we couldn't trade our bitcoins.
We were stuck with no money, petrol and food. After a few hours we managed to ask a friend in Spain to transfer some € and we managed to continue our journey, we used this service twice due the lack of ATM.
I also had to sell my watch in Congo as it was bank holiday and all the banks were closed and M.G/W.U agents. In French what I don't speak well and made a profit :)

After the amazing Cameroon we had to cross Congo and RDC quick due the conflicts and we are a bit short of time to arrive to Cape Town.
But we managed to visit the Bonobos (Monkeys) in Congo, we spent 2 days with them, as the veterinary is our friend we had the opportunity to be very close and play with them, great 2 days!

The border crossing to RDC was insane, imagine corruption, a passenger boat where it was impossible to fit another person, no ramps for the bikes or even a wheel chair, last boat of the day and it was Friday. We managed and finished the day laughing about it :)

After 11 countries talking in French we finally arrived in Angola, as a native speaker of Portuguese things got easier for me and for our bellies, food is amazing here, like home.

Beautiful country and friendly people, no corruption so far and lots of ATM, everyone is very helpful as well.
After 4 days in Luanda with some friends, we are on the road again, today we did 515 Km to Lobito where we met a contact to do our fifth exchange, this time to Angolan Kwanzas.
Another successful transaction, the Internet is getting faster as we head south.

In 3 days we will enter Namibia, more stories will come soon."

Invite friends to LocalBitcoins and have trusted trades

LocalBitcoins has launched a new Invite Friends feature. You can invite your friends to join to LocalBitcoins and if they decide to do so, the friends are automatically added to your Trusted people list.

You can create special bitcoin trade advertisements which are only available to your trusted people. This makes some things easy

  • Introduce your friends to bitcoins by selling small amounts of bitcoins to them with very good rate.
  • Having a connection to people outside LocalBitcoins makes them more trustable and you can have less risk premier in your trusted advertisement prices.
  • Trusted advertisements are suitable for selling bitcoins on some high risk payments methods to your friends; you would not necessary sell bitcoins on these payments methods for public audience due to associated risk.
You can find Invite Friends feature in under your dashboard.





Monday, December 9, 2013

SMS Notifications Now Free For New Contacts

We have upgraded our SMS notification message fee schedule. Now all notifications except for messaging are free. Fee for messages is lowered to 0.00015 BTC/msg. We plan to move to dollar-base pricing, which should be more fair to the users.

It is recommended to turn on the new contact notifications, because you won't want to miss out those precious deals flowing in.

Here is my personal setup - I will receive a SMS message each time someone contacts me, so I won't miss a single deal. The settings can be changed from "Edit Profile" in the upper right corner, when you are logged in.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Automate Bitcoin Cash-Outs via LocalBitcoins API

As it takes ages to get money from mtgox and some other exchanges, there are opportunities for providing speedy "cash-out" services to the Bitcoin community. Recently we added some features to LocalBitcoins which makes acting as a liquidity provider easier and more streamlined.

First feature is account details validation. At first this functions for SEPA cashouts. The form validates account details, so that the buyer saves the hassle of checking the proper format. This validation has been added to some other payment methods as well, and will be extended.


The other feature is API functions for getting online buying contacts, and marking them complete. These methods can be used to automate online buying on LocalBitcoins.

For listing online buying: https://localbitcoins.com/api-docs/#api_toc4
For marking the payment as complete: https://localbitcoins.com/api-docs/#api_toc5

We will be also providing bounties to people who write open source automation scripts for different payment methods. More on those later.

Happy trading!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bitcoin Revolution Spreads to Togo! #BitcoinAfrica

After reading the following trip report I can just say WOW! It is awesome how the information about new technology is spreading, and even more awesome when people are so quick to see the benefit for them.

Below is quote from Elvis, who is helping Borja on the #BitcoinAfrica tour.

"I'm Elvis, the travel mate of Borja and I am also helping with the bitcoin project. Today I will be sharing the last stories until Cotonou (Benin) where we arrived today.
We crossed Burkina Faso in just 2 days, after being in Mali where we had an amazing experience, kind people, beautiful scenery, Burkina was quite a change for us.
People were friendly sometimes and the scenery was nice in the north but after the capital it changed a lot and we didn't even stop for a single picture.

But luckily things changed again, after entering in Togo I felt for the first time that I was in the real Africa, the dense forests, tall trees, no tarmac and the people seem very nice and friendly. The border crossing was fast and easy and no bribes.

We started driving trough the big dust of the big trucks crossing the pistes of orange soil, it was beautiful but after 30Km and the sun going down the visibility was pour so we decided to stop and look for a place to sleep.
The scenery was great around us and we spotted a little tribe with bambo/mud houses so we quickly decided to approach the chef of the tribe and ask for permission to camp with them. After talking in their local language and many people giving their opinion they said yes.


The chef initially told us to sleep in his house with his 2 wife's but they had suck a nice big tree in the back so we mounted the tents there and during the process of mounting everything we had half of the tribe looking at us, amazed with our gear and us, the way people looked at us was funny, all the kind of reactions and I believe some of them never seen a white person or motorbikes like ours.

So after a long day we had to shower and we pretty much showered around the manual water pump in the middle of the field and it was already dark, but it was better than many crappy hotels we were.

The sky was amazing, for the first time we saw it so clear and full of stars and after a nice meal time to recharge batteries.

Next day we headed south and Borja was unlucky with another puncture, but all good and we quickly found a "mechanic" to fix it. During the process we had the opportunity to listen to the stories of some people that were surrounding us and we were amazed with the difficulties that this people have to make a living. So we share some ideas and explain them how things work in Europe and they kept saying, "This is Africa"! A place with loads of corruption and where you need to have contacts to be able to accomplish your business goals.
So it was a good opportunity to explain about BitCoin and they were amazed and some of them even wrote down the website of localbitcoins.

Pucture fixed and we headed to Lomé and found a place at the beach. We stayed a few days to service the bikes and some administration. We also visit the Fetish Market, only white magic is what they say and visited the waterfalls in Kpalimé, all very nice experience.

During our stay, we luckily found a person interested in buying bitcoins and it was a pleasant transaction, just a few delays due the Internet, (we had dinner while the trade was done) in Africa you need to be very patient.

So this is it, we just arrived in Cotonou and more stories will follow."
Up to date, the success rate for spreading Bitcoin to Africa has been pretty good! Please if you know any people willing to exchange from the next locations, contact Borja on LocalBitcoins or create your own ad to your country for free.

Benin -Cotonou
Cameroon -Douala
Nigeria -Abuja
 Republic of Congo -Brazzaville
Democratic Republic of Congo -Kinshasha
Angola -Luanda
Namibia -Windhoek
Bostwana -Gaborone
South Africa-Cape Town




 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bitcoins Exchanged succesfully in Mali #BitcoinAfrica

Our Africa motorcycler and Bitcoiner, Borja reported a new exchange story from Africa, this time from Mali.

"We just arrived to burkina faso, and crossed an incredible border from Mali. 3 really kind polices and thats all, they did it very easy and without bribes. Asking us about the trip and smiling all the time.
We had today quite a hard day, we had two punctures in my bike, first one in my front tyre and when i realized it was too late, very difficult to control and i fell, around 70km/h
Everything ok! Really good luck.
After fixing the first puncture, with the help of two guys that saw us and came to help. I had another puncture, this time of my back tyre, and with better luck, I felt it before it was too late. 
Before that in Mali,we where a bit scared with the news of Al Qaeda and the Touregs in the north, and we discovered an amazing country. Everybody smiling, saying "bonjour" every time you cross with someone, in the road, everybody saying hello with their hands and supporting us. The south of the country was so beautiful, a lot more water and trees than what we thought. A bit more to the north the city of Djenné (World Heritage) with a really beautiful mosque made of mud, the biggest in the world, and was made around 1180.
We were for 3 days in Bamako, visiting our friend "Curro" that works there for a spanish company.
He never heard before about bitcoin and we explained what it was, and he is so interested, so he opened a new account, he let us money for that three days, and we are going to pay him in bitcoins. There and in many other countries people use FRANC CFAS."




Next steps on the trip:
Burkina faso -Ouagadougou 
Togo -Lomé
Benin -Cotonou
Cameroon -Douala
Nigeria -Abuja
 Republic of Congo -Brazzaville
Democratic Republic of Congo -Kinshasha
Angola -Luanda
Namibia -Windhoek
Bostwana -Gaborone
South Africa-Cape Town
If you are in these country or know a willing exchanger from these countries, please contact Borja on LocalBitcoins or create your own ad to your country for free.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

#BitcoinAfrica - Bitcoins exchanged succesfully in Morocco


Motorcycle trip through Africa continues - and Bitcoins were exchanged succesfully!

Read the Bitcoin Magazine Story about the trip.

Next steps on the trip:
Western Sahara
Mauritania  -Nouakchott
Senegal  -Dakar 
Mali   - Bamako
Burkina faso -Ouagadougou 
Togo -Lomé
Benin -Cotonou
Cameroon -Douala
Nigeria -Abuja
 Republic of Congo -Brazzaville
Democratic Republic of Congo -Kinshasha
Angola -Luanda
Namibia -Windhoek
Bostwana -Gaborone
South Africa-Cape Town

If you are in these country or know a willing exchanger from these countries, please contact Borja on LocalBitcoins or create your own ad to your country for free.

Friday, October 11, 2013

#BitcoinAfrica - touring the Africa continent using #Bitcoins - help needed!

LocalBitcoins.com is sponsoring a motorcycle trip throughout Africa. The idea is to find an willing exchanger (Bitcoins -> Cash) from each country/city during the trip and blog about the experience. Therefore we are in an urgent need of exchangers, who would like to exchange bitcoins to cash in each country.

We need local contacts in the following African countries for an extremely interesting upcoming adventure. If you know anybody in these countries/cities, or if you are in them, please spread the word:


Morocco -Casablanca -Marrakech
Western Sahara
Mauritania  -Nouakchott
Senegal  -Dakar 
Mali   - Bamako
Burkina faso -Ouagadougou 
Togo -Lomé
Benin -Cotonou
Cameroon -Douala
Nigeria -Abuja
 Republic of Congo -Brazzaville
Democratic Republic of Congo -Kinshasha
Angola -Luanda
Namibia -Windhoek
Bostwana -Gaborone
South Africa-Cape Town


To contact the motorcycler (Borja) directly to set up an exchange: borjaserra@hotmail.com

You can set up an exchange advertisement here.
If you have any problems setting up an ad for your local place, tell us about them on the localbitcoins forums.


The motorcycle used on the trip - with Bitcoin and LocalBitcoins stickers!



Friday, October 4, 2013

Buying Bitcoins the smart way - tracking liquidity

Today we launched a new minor feature on LocalBitcoins, which should make certain type of trading much easier. It is the "track liquidity" option, which is possible to enable for buy ads.

Example scenario: I want to invest 1000 USD each month from my paycheck to Bitcoins. What is the smart way to do this? I create an advertisement with max amount 1000 USD for the payment method of my choice, and offer speedy payouts. Each time an order comes in, my max sellable amount is automatically deducted, meaning that I can't buy more than I have.

Good buying equation for this kind of trading is for example min(min(bitstampUSD, USD_24h), mtgoxUSD). See more examples in the pricing guide.

Friday, September 27, 2013

LocalBitcoins now available in Spanish

LocalBitcoins is now available in Spanish. You can access the Spanish version of the website through this link: https://localbitcoins.com/es/

Currently 99% of the site is translated. You should manage to use the site even if you do not speak any English. LocalBitcoins team is still working on minor issues. For example, the name of the places are still available only in English. If you spot any missing translations you can report those to our support team.

We have also Spanish support staff working for us to answer the support requests and resolve disputes. Also don't forget our Spanish community discussion forums!

LocalBitcoins.com en español

LocalBitcoins.com está ahora disponible también en español. Para acceder a nuestras páginas en español, puedes utilizar el siguiente enlace: https://localbitcoins.com/es/

Por el momento, tenemos disponibles el 99% de nuestras páginas en español. El uso de nuestra web debería ser posible sin ningún conocimiento de inglés. El equipo de LocalBitcoins.com está aún trabajando en algunos pormenores con la traducción, por lo que puede haber fallos en las traducciones o algunas frases pueden estar aún en inglés. Si encuentras alguna de estas frases, por favor, notifícalo a nuestro equipo de soporte.

Tenemos también un nuevo miembro del equipo que se encarga de las solicitudes de soporte en español, por lo que no dudes en contactarnos también en castellano para responder a tus dudas y resolver disputas. Y por supuesto, ¡no te olvides de nuestros foros de discusión en español!

Why Spanish?

Bitcoin has proven itself as the digital currency without borders. We see a lot of Bitcoin related activity in South America where Spanish is the dominant language. There, the internet infrastructure is quite well developed, but online payment options might be limited. Bitcoin, as the inflation safe way of storing value, may be a better tool for the savings than the government issued fiat currency.

Some highlights

Affiliate bonuses

To celebrate the opening of Spanish version of the site and drive Spanish speaking traffic to the site, LocalBitcoins.com has almost doubled its affiliate bonuses for the next two months.

Previously the affiliate revenue was 20% for each trade participant (buyer and seller) for one year - You could earn 40% from the trade revenue this way.

Now affiliate payouts will be 35% from each referred trader up to two months, so you can earn up to 70% if both the buyer and the seller join LocalBitcoins.com through your link.

Read more about this in LocalBitcoins.com affiliate program. We have updated the affiliate info page for Spanish linking tips and Spanish <iframe> banners. We suggest you advertise in Spanish speaking medias and link using the address https://localbitcoins.com/es/ which takes the users directly to Spanish version of the site.

Programa de afiliados

Para celebrar el lanzamiento de nuestras páginas en español, y generar más tráfico hispanoparlante a nuestro sitio web, en LocalBitcoins.com tiramos la casa por la ventana y casi doblamos nuestras bonificaciones de afiliados.

Previamente, los ingresos de afiliados eran de un 20% por cada participante (comprador y vendedor) por un periodo de 1 año. Es decir, nuestro programa de afiliados te ofrecía la posibilidad de llevarte un 40% de nuestra comisión por intercambio.

Durante los próximos 2 meses, te ofrecemos la posibilidad de llevarte el 35% de los ingresos por cada participante comercial que atraigas a nuestro sitio, con lo que puedes conseguir el 70% de nuestros ingresos comerciales si tanto el comprador como el vendedor se registran a nuestro sitio a través de tu enlace de afiliado.

Infórmate sobre el programa de afiliados de LocalBitcoins.com. Hemos actualizado nuestro página de afiliados con consejos para enlaces de afiliados en español, y ahora también proporcionamos versiones en español de nuestros banners <iframe>. Te recomendamos la promoción en medios hispanoparlantes y enlazarnos utilizando la dirección https://localbitcoins.com/es/, que dirige a los usuarios directamente a nuestras páginas en español.

LocalBitcoins wants to go further, to every city in the world

Now when the Spanish is done, the next big localization goal of LocalBitcoins team is Chinese. If you have insight in Bitcoin and want to help LocalBitcoins to reach Chinese users,  please contact our team.

Affiliate bonuses raised

To celebrate the opening of Spanish version of the site and drive Spanish speaking traffic to the site, LocalBitcoins has almost doubled its affiliate bonuses for next the months. However this change affects everyone, not just new/spanish affiliates.

Previously the affiliate revenue was 20% for each trade participant (buyer and seller) for one year - You could earn 40% from the trade revenue this way.

Now affiliate payouts will be 35% from each referred trader up to two months, so you can earn up to 70% if both the buyer and the seller join LocalBitcoins.com through your link.

Read more about this in LocalBitcoins.com affiliate program.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Post-mortem: bitcoin stealing attack against LocalBitcoins

There was an attack against LocalBitcoins.com on Friday 13.9.2013 to steal bitcoins from the wallets of LocalBitcoins.com users. Thanks to the responsive LocalBitcoins community, the attack was quickly detected, the support team was notified and the attack was blocked. All affected users have now been reimbursed for their losses.

A user using a relatively old LocalBitcoins.com user account sent maliciously file attachments through LocalBitcoins.com internal messaging to the traders. People opening the attachment might have lost bitcoins they had in their LocalBitcoins wallet. This was due to an error in LocalBitcoins.com messaging system which should block all kind of malicious file attachments. Total 82 bitcoins was stolen.

Only the users who had not enabled two-factor authentication were affected. LocalBitcoins.com always reminds the users who have bitcoins in their wallet to enable two-factor authentication which protect against both technical and social account hacking attempts.

LocalBitcoins.com security has now been strengthened and similar attacks are not possible in the future. LocalBitcoins.com internal messaging is safe and the users are encouraged to use it. People should be always very careful when communicating outside localbitcoins system.

 

LocalBitcoins reimbursement policy

LocalBitcoins credits the lost bitcoins to its users when there is a clear error in LocalBitcoins.com service, allowing somebody who is not authenticated on the site to access the wallet.

LocalBitcoins.com does not credit the lost bitcoins when the loss is caused by the actions of user. Usually actions like this include, but are not limited to,
  • Giving username and password to some external (phishing) site or losing the control of the password when having the computer infected by malware.
  • Releasing bitcoins from an escrow to a buyer even though the payment is not properly confirmed and cleared.
  • Payment problems outside LocalBitcoins control, such as afterwards reversed transactions
LocalBitcoins.com cannot protect the users against phishing and file attachment attacks outside LocalBitcoins.com service. Thus, always be careful when opening emails, SMS messages, links and attachments coming directly from another person. Always enable the two-factor authentication when you are actively dealing with bitcoins on any services you are using.

 

Attack details

The attack was performed by uploading a specially crafted image file. The file attachment had PNG image file headers, but contained HTML payload and .htm extension. The HTML payload included JavaScript code performing HTTP POST request to send bitcoins out from LocalBitcoins wallet.
  • LocalBitcoins.com uses Django web framework which includes security features to block invalid image uploads. However, in this particular case, the image verify method let the specially crafted file through because it contained valid PNG headers. The standard Python Imaging Library verify method does not check for extra payload at the end of image file.
  • When the web browser downloaded the file, it interpreted the attachment as a HTML file, even though the beginning of the file was garbage due to PNG headers.
  • Because the file was served from LocalBitcoins.com domain, the download was considered as safe and it passed through cross-site request forgery protections.
  • When the user opened the attachment, the web browser executed JavaScript inside the file and managed to perform a Send from wallet action if the two-factor authentication was not enabled. With two-factor authentication an additional security code is needed to execute a wallet transaction.

 

Actions taken to prevent further attacks

Since the attack, LocalBitcoins.com team has strengthened the site security with additional layers to prevent similar attacks in the future.
  • Uploaded image files are rewritten to be clean image files, so that any extra payload or codec bug exploits in the web browsers are not possible.
  • Extra checks are performed to make sure that the image content matches the attached file extension.
  • LocalBitcoins wallet pages performs more aggressive HTTP referrer checks to prevent triggering wallet actions from JavaScript code.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tune up your Bitcoin trading with market-based pricing

Hey traders,

If you've ever dug deeper in our ad options, you may have found the price equation field. The innocuous premium field above actually creates a basic, functional price equation for the ad. That's where the magic happens. But how to improve on the equation? Maximizing risk and profit, or playing it safe? Perhaps even both?

Price equations as used on LocalBitcoins.com have been somewhat of an arcane art so far, especially for advanced use.

We don't like features that don't create value for us and our customers. In part of this effort to suck less, we've just published a guide to using price equations more effectively. Although it is mostly a technical reference at this time, I hope it will be useful! As always, we will consider any feedback to improve our service.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bitcoin market data available on Bitcoin Charts

LocalBitcoins.com team has implemented Bitcoin Charts integration. Now you can see LocalBitcoins.com market data with other big exchanges.



This data includes online trades and excludes cash trades. LocalBitcoins.com is not an order book based exchange. For the order book asks and bids data we provide online selling bitcoins and online buying bitcoins advertisement values.

Even though Bitcoin Charts only displays EUR, we have data available for  ARS, AUD, BRL, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, ILS, INR, MXN, NOK, NZD, PLN, RUB, SEK, SGD, THB, USD, ZAR (or any currency our users trade).

You can also pull the data with HTTP  in JSON format as described in LocalBitcoins.com API documentation.


Monday, August 5, 2013

LocalBitcoins.com Public JSON API released

Hey developers!

I'm proud to announce the second iteration of our API. The focus of API 2.0 is public browsing APIs. There's a whole slew of different ways to find good deals on LocalBitcoins.com -- almost all of them are now also available in JSON. Please have a look at our Public API documentation!
Changes and additions include:
  • A new API to query profile information with
  • JSON versions for most of our listings (full list of them are in the docs)
  • Supporting APIs that facilitate searching through our listings, including the lists of currencies, payment methods and countries our service recognizes.
  • Corner case issue fixes in existing APIs

About our API

We first introduced a small API last month, with the goal of enabling traders to release their escrows with an application. Although the scope was small, the response was good. Thank you for your interest!

Our bounty program for API implementations and clients is a rough start, but we'll keep doing them in the future. The experience in the pilot bounties is important to us as we want the bounty program to be a good experience for everyone involved.

Future of our API – You're invited

I'm already looking forward to our 3.0 API. We'll be setting our foot in the sprawling Bitcoin market data field. The exact details and breadth will be decided at a later time. API development right now is focused on troubleshooting the current API and grabbing all the low hanging fruit.

The design decisions are still malleable. Now it is the time to contact us and help us make the new APIs useful from day one. You can discuss it in public on our forums or contact our support in private if you prefer.'

Pie-in-the-sky requests are also considered for later planning, please do come forward with them. I want to keep the API simple and powerful: having as many concerns as possible known well in advance helps keeping it all in harmony.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday API update

Hey developers!

We've received lots of good feedback on our API. That's a really good reason to pay attention to how useful it is.

Particular attention was paid to the Escrow API that now provides amounts for each escrow. I hope that'll make trading life easier. The API now also supports OAuth2 better, with bearer tokens supported.

The API documentation was also updated to reflect the minor enhancements and corrections implemented. Please direct your concerns about the API either to our forums (public) or support (private).

P.S. Special shout-out to this gem of an API client! Gems are the fancy name for Ruby packages.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Private and Trusted Trading on LocalBitcoins.com

Ever wanted to convert customers met and identified in person into long-term online trading partners? Or have good prices for and from your friends? It is now possible to do private trading as well on LocalBitcoins.com! 

By leaving a Trustworthy feedback after a trade, you actually add that trading partner to the Trusted whitelist. You and your trading partners can make Trusted only advertisements which show up only to trusted buyers in the trusted offers page (LocalBitcoins.com login required). Trusted offers page is also available in the top bar when you're logged in. With the advertisement available only to known and reliable partners, there are many benefits.
  • Special pricing and terms for your highly-valued trading partners/customers
  • High-risk payment methods such as paypal to trusted traders
  • Liquidity to your trusted trading partners
These advertisements don't show to anyone else but trusted buyers. You can change your trust of another person anytime from his profile page using the feedback form. You need to have finished at least one trade to leave the initial feedback.

After I work out the kinks in trusted trading, I'll be rolling out an alternate way to enable trust on people you know personally without committing in a trade first.

Regional and trading bitcoin discussion forums opened

We has just opened our new discussion forums at LocalBitcoins.com.

The purpose of forums are many-fold

The mobile friendly forum platform is based on the technology from moot.it


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bug regarding advertisements in African countries fixed

There was a bug, which prevented users from creating ads to many African countries, and other small countries around the world. The bug should be fixed now, and adding advertisements should work now. You can add advertisements using the "Post a trade" button in the upper bar.

African countries are very important to us. If you are planning to set up an exchange to some new location, and are having a problem, drop us a message at our forums: http://localbitcoins.com/forums/#!/general-discussion

Friday, July 5, 2013

Automate your trading with LocalBitcoins API

Tired of checking your accounts manually? Now it is possible to automate your trading processes using the LocalBitcoins API.

Currently you can get the list of your active escrows, and release escrows. This functionality is enough to automate the online selling process. Online buying process automation will come later. Read the documentation here and get your API keys. There is small example attached, which shows how to authenticate and use the API using python programming language.

Are you a programmer and capable of implementing the automation script for a specific payment method? We are giving out 2 BTC bounties for each new payment method automation script, which is published on github. Only 10 first, however, and suitable README should be included about how to use the script. Also we will review if the code looks clean and trustable. If you manage to develop a script, contact us at support@localbitcoins.com so we will reward you the bounty after examination.

We are especially interested in scripts, that automate the popular payment methods used on localbitcoins.com.

Happy automated trading!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Trading Bitcoins using M-PESA in Kenya and Tanzania

We have added M-PESA option to traders in Kenya and Tanzania. M-PESA is a very popular payment method in those countries. If M-PESA to Bitcoin traders begin to emerge, it will mean effortless and friction-free connection from Kenya and Tanzania to the global economy, and low-cost remittance.

Currently there are no M-PESA traders on localbitcoins.com, but we hope to attract more soon. If you know someone who would be interested doing this kind of trade, note that we have a new affiliate program. This means that you can earn commission from the fees of traders you refer to LocalBitcoins.com.

Happy global trading!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Using LocalBitcoins.com to Help Grow Bitcoin Adoption

This is the first in a series of posts designed to help Bitcoin users get started with LocalBitcoins accounts.

--

One of the biggest problems standing in the way of increased Bitcoin adoption is the difficulty of buying them. It's a constant complaint you hear anywhere new (or aspiring) Bitcoin users gather.

Companies like BitInstant, Coinbase, etc. are working to make this easier all the time, but that's never going to be a complete solution because they can only add capacity so quickly and sometimes the process of adding new capacity can cause their website to be down for a couple weeks. In addition, there is always going to be a huge group of people who are not as savvy as the earlier adopters who aren't going to feel comfortable using BitInstant themselves no matter how much they improve their process.

For those reasons, it's enormously helpful if existing Bitcoin maintain active ads on LocalBitcoins so that when new users want to buy their first Bitcoins they have an easy way to find someone willing to help them through the process.

I've been selling on LocalBitcoins for several months, and what I've learned is there is an enormous market out there of people who want Bitcoins but just won't feel comfortable without some personalized hand holding. Those people are willing and happy to pay a markup that allows you to take the cash they give you, go through BitInstant or Coinbase yourself, and replenish the Bitcoins you sold them at a small profit. It's entirely possible for a person who is trying to accumulate Bitcoins in the long term to also sell and replenish them as a way of helping to bring in new users.

One thing you should know about local sales like this is that it's not a viable business. You won't lose money, but as an individual you'll never move a sufficient volume to earn more than a pittance in profit. Think of it as a hobby and as a vehicle for new user support and promotion. Meet new people, talk to them about Bitcoin, teach them how to buy them directly through the same services you use, and invite them to your local Bitcoin groups. I've almost never sold bitcoins to the same person twice on LocalBitcoins but I'm still quite busy over there because of the sheer number of new users who are learning about Bitcoin every day and want it. They hear about LocalBitcoins via news articles or web searches and we need to have people there ready to help them.

Here are some tips I can share based on my experiences of what works on LocalBitcoins. The information will necessarily be US-centric because I don't know what services are available in other countries and how they work:

First, if you haven't done it already set up accounts on Coinbase, BitInstant, CampBX, and Dwolla. Complete the AML verification where applicable, and make small purchases on Coinbase and CampBX to start their respective 30 day probation periods.

While you're waiting 30 days to be fully capable of replenishing the bitcoins you sell, open a separate bank account, ideally one with business hours that make it convenient to deposit cash on the evenings and weekends. Link this bank account to Coinbase, Dwolla, and BitInstant and store an initial balance of 1.0-2.0 times the maximum value of a cash BTC purchase you are willing to facilitate. What you're going to do is hold that cash as a buffer in your bank account, then when somebody buys Bitcoins from you you'll start a Coinbase order for the same amount, and then deposit the cash you get from the sale into the bank account. This protects you from exchange rate risk as much as possible. You don't want to sell a Bitcoin for cash today, wait around a couple days and then decide to replenish when the price is now significantly higher. On the other hand you don't want to have more fiat sitting around than you need to be able to float the 3-5 business days Coinbase is going to take to release your new Bitcoins.

Once you're ready to go it's time to set up an account on LocalBitcoins and start listing your services. Important things to think about about here are the text of your advertisement, and the pricing formula. When it comes to the text of the ad, Make sure to include contact hours, location details, and specific instructions. Be as clear as possible about your expectations in terms of time to complete a transaction, and where you are willing to meet.
I've also learned that developing a robust pricing formula takes a bit of work as well. For example, one might naively expect the following to yield good results:

mtgoxUSD*1.06

That formula will produce a 6% commission above Mt Gox latest, but if you use it long enough you'll discover two problem:
  1. Mt Gox is sometimes down, so your formula won't work correctly.
  2. There are people out there who will try to high frequency arbitrage on your formula. The way this works is they watch for a sudden drop in the Mt Gox price and then enter orders on LocalBitcoins on the ads whose exchange rates immediately drop as well. If the price quickly recovers they'll complete the sale and immediately sell those bitcoins on Mt Gox, putting you underwater on the trade after consuming your time to go and meet them to complete the sale.
Problem 1) can be solved by looking at more than one exchange.

max(mtgoxUSD,cbxUSD)*1.06

Now your formula takes the higher of Mt Gox or CampBX. This logic could be further chained to include more exchanges, but for simplicity we'll leave it there.

Problem 2) can be solved by including the 24 hour moving average as a factor as well:

max(max(mtgoxUSD,cbxUSD), USD_24h)*1.06

Now the formula responds immediately to sudden increases in the exchange rate, but gradually to drops in the exchange rate. This is fine because you're here to help new users buy their first Bitcoins, not service high frequency traders.

Another problem will come up during times when the price is increasing very rapidly, such as in March and April of this year. Even with a relatively generous commission, it's possible for you to end up underwater on the trade during the time it takes for you to coordinate a meeting and make the exchange. One way to solve this is to include a term that accounts for volatility:

USD_24h+(1.5*(mtgoxUSD-USD_24h))

That statement will project the current spot price to value that is 50% further away from the 24 hour moving average than it already is. Adjusted to include multiple exchange it looks like this:

USD_24h+(1.5*(max(cbxUSD,mtgoxUSD)-USD_24h))

and finally it can be added to the previous equation for a complete formula:

max(max(max(mtgoxUSD,cbxUSD), USD_24h),USD_24h+(1.5*(max(cbxUSD,mtgoxUSD)-USD_24h)))*1.06

I've been using equations in this form for a while now and they work very well in practice.

Another thing to consider is communication. Meeting up in person requires some finesse and coordination, so it's helpful to give the person a way to contact you in real time, like a phone number or an email address. I initially included this information in the ad itself, and found it to be a bad idea because I got spammed by people who wanted to negotiate different terms than what I included in the ad and got aggressively hostile when I declined. Once someone has initiated a contact you can respond to them with a number they can send text messages. Using Google Voice for this is a good idea. It goes without saying that meetings should be in busy public places and not dark alleys or your own home for everyone's safety.

Similar principles apply if you also want to sell online as well as in person. For example, if you offer a Dwolla ad then you'll be able to take up some of the slack during times when services like BitInstant are overloaded and you can help people other people get Bitcoins immediately who are still in CampBX's 30 day probation period. Keep 1.0-2.0 times the maximum value of the online purchase you are willing to facilitate as a balance in your CampBX account, and every time you make a sale on LocalBitcoins execute a Spend-X order for the same amount at the same time. Periodically you'll need to move received dollars from your Dwolla account to CampBX and move the Bitcoins you bought back to your LocalBitcoins wallet.

Note that experience has shown that it's dangerous to sell Bitcoins online via any payment method, and you run the risk of having accounts closed if someone sends you a fraudulent payment. It's probably not something you should start off doing, and if possible you should only allow people you know and trust to buy you from this way. You can do that by keeping your online ad disabled most of the time and only enabling it long enough for your friend to enter the order. (hopefully future revisions to the site will make this easier) In any case never leave more money sitting as a balance in any service (including your bank account) than what you could afford to lose in a worst case scenario.

I want to encourage everybody to set up and maintain ads in their local area to help grow Bitcoin adoption. We'll get new users a lot faster if there's a place they can go to find people willing to help them out in person for their first BTC purchase. You can use the trade as an opportunity to share your own knowledge, make new personal and business connections, and recruit another person to help do the same thing for the next wave of users. That's how we sustain an exponential adoption curve needed to get Bitcoins into the hands of the other seven billion people in the world.

About the Author:

Justus Ranvier is a Bitcoin activist and freelance author who has had some modest success using LocalBitcoins and wants to help others achieve the same thing. He can be contacted via his Google Plus profile.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bitcoin Exchange Berlin - Local Exchanging Event

Want to trade local, but in more massive style? Satoshi square made that already in New York, US. Now Bitcoin Exchange Berlin is doing the same in Berlin.

LocalBitcoins.com will be sponsoring the event, promoting local bitcoin exchanging. In the future we might also otherwise support this kind of trading events with website features and advertisements.

The event will be held on 29th June, Saturday in Platoon Kunsthalle, Berlin.

Monday, June 10, 2013

LocalBitcoins.com bank account frozen - how to deal with SEPA transfers

On Tuesday 4.6.2013 the LocalBitcoins.com bank account used for trading bitcoins using SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) transfers was frozen. The account was unfrozen three days later.

A cold day in a bank in Finland

  • We received a large bitcoin buy request from Switzerland on Monday 3..62013 (a day before). A LocalBitcoins.com user wanted to buy bitcoins with Euros using a SEPA bank transfer.
  • The same user had traded with us before with smaller sums of euros
  • Thus, we believed the trade request was legitimate
On Tuesday 4.6.2013 10:00 AM we received a phone call from our bank that the Swiss bank of the trading party would like to chargeback the SEPA bank transfer. As we had already transferred  bitcoins to the trading party, naturally we declined the request.

The trading party had deleted the user account immediately after receiving bitcoins.We could not contact the party any longer.

Later on Tuesday 4.6.2013 13:00 AM we receive another phone call from our bank. The Swiss bank had remade the request to chargeback the SEPA transfer, with an additional request to freeze our bank account. Our bank complied with its international contracts and froze our account until the situation was resolved.

To resolve the situation, we send our bank the LocalBitcoins.com receipt of the transaction, as the proof of legitimacy. All trades made on LocalBitcoins.com automatically generate an electronic receipt. The receipt is signed using bitcoin addresses, using strong cryptography. You can find the receipts on your LocalBitcoins.com account by going to your user profile, clicking Dashboard, clicking Closed escrows, clicking Reference id and  scrolling down the page.




By the laws of Finland, the originating bank of a wire transfer (the Swiss bank in our case) is responsible for clearing the money and making sure the transfer is legit. We had all the reasons to believe that our trading party is not involved any criminal activity, as we had traded with the party before without any complications. Thus, after showing the receipts, on Friday 7.6.2013, three days later, our bank unfroze the account.

The banks did not disclose what happened between them. Here are our theories
  • The bank account of our trading partner was stolen and the trading partner was clearing the stolen money by exchanging it to bitcoins. The trades that happened before the freeze did not trigger statistical threshold points which will alert the bank staff for manually intervention. 
  • The trading partner was a scammer who was relying on the fact that the Swiss bank would automatically chargeback the SEPA transfer in the case a claim was made. The prior bitcoin purchases had been done to build reputation on LocalBitcoins.com reputation system to make the larger trades seem more safe. We are not aware what are the legislation and contract obligations of Swiss banks regarding SEPA transfers. If the Swiss banks refund the SEPA transfers without due diligence this would mean the scammer could keep both bitcoins and euros.
  • This was an attempt from a hostile party, like a government or a competitor, trying to stab us and hinder our operations.
The LocalBitcoins.com operations were not in risk in any point of the events.  LocalBitcoins.com uses a separate account for trading operations. These kind of events do not effect daily operations which are funded from non-trading accounts. In fact, we keep minimum balances on all of our accounts to minimize the impact of asset freezes due to political and criminal risks in the virtual currency industry.

We do not know how the losses between banks are dealt in these kind of situations. However, if the events like this are likely to repeat, one might get the status of persona non-grata in a bank.

LocalBitcoins.com operates in Helsinki, Finland. We pay taxes to Finland, we follow the laws of Finland and European Union. However, the virtual currencies in online networks are a contemporary phenomenon. Resolution processes are not everyday for all involved parties yet. Thus, we recommend our traders to take the following safety measures

Bitcoin will prevail.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Argentina goverment fixing the exchange rates - the LocalBitcoins.com solution

We have received numerous requests to implement so called "blue dollar exchange rate" for Argentine Peso. The official exchange rate is different from the real exchange rate used in the markets.

We don't know much about the real situation in Argentina, but it was quite easy to find the unofficial "Blue dollar market rate" API for the Argintine Peso. We made a special symbol for it called "XAR", and you can use it to convert from USD values with the equation parameter USD_in_XAR, like this:

  • Buy: min(mtgoxUSD_close, bitstampUSD_close)*USD_in_XAR*0.99
  • Sell: max(mtgoxUSD_close, bitstampUSD_close)*USD_in_XAR*1.01
According to our data sources, official rate for Argentine Peso is 5.29 ARS/USD, while according to our other data sources the blue market rate is 8.62 ARS/USD at the time of writing this blog post. Of course Argentinese should verify the rates themselves, if the data provided by us is reliable.

We also support other special currencies, like:
We are planning to target southern America more in the future, with features and translations. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

LocalBitcoins.com logo updated

After an exciting design competition on 99designs.com, new LocalBitcoins.com logo has been revealed. Please visit LocalBitcoins.com to see it.

Related to the logo update, we have made some changes on the site theme and layout
  • The site theme is now lighter and should give an image of trust and security
  • Mobile user experience is now better and you should find it easier to browse the site on your  mobile phone
  • On the front page you'll also find some big media names where LocalBitcoins.com has been featured 
If you wish to give us any feedback on the new design please use our feedback form.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Using two-factor authentication on Localbitcoins.com

We've recently updated LocalBitcoins.com login process. While it's simplified and more clear, the previously omnipresent two-factor authentication code was obscured. But two factor authentication is still there, and stronger than ever!



Why two-factor authentication?


Security! Normal logins are simply something you know: you know your username and password.  Two factor login adds a new vector, such as something physical you have. This physical token could be a smart card, a dongle or a phone: all it needs to do is provide a way to prove its existence as needed. The simplest way is to generate a series of numbers based on a shared secret and the current time: any series of numbers is only valid for a short time, making it useless afterward.

 

How to use two-factor authentication?


Our two factor authentication process is based on Google Authenticator mobile application. It requires a smartphone (Android / iPhone) .

Once you have Google Authenticator installed, just point your browser to your profile edit page on LocalBitcoins.com (click your username after log in) and scroll down to the two factor authentication title. Open the Authenticator application on your mobile phone, choose Set Up New Account and scan the QR barcode code from your account page. Write down the secret key below the QR code and store safely, preferably separate from your main computer. The secret key can be installed on a new smartphone later, allowing you to continue logging in to LocalBitcoins.com.

That's all. Try it out by logging out and back in. After you enter your login details, you will be prompted for the Authenticator code at the moment. With the authenticator app punch in the code displayed.

If you have problems logging in with the Authenticator, just contact our support through feedback form.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Signing and verifying documents with Bitcoin

Digital signing system verifies that any document can be proven by to be signed by a certain party.

What's a digital signature?

Bitcoin comes with a way to sign any data. The private and public key pair Bitcoin itself is based on is needed for signing transactions, but they are not restricted to that. Of particular interest is signing documents.

The document signature can connect a specific Bitcoin address and a document together, proving that the Bitcoin address owner has personally approved the document. A signature looks like this:

IJ/17TjGGUqmEppAliYBUesKHoHzfY4gR4DW0Yg7QzrHUB5FwX1uTJ/H21CF8ncY8HHNB5/lh8kPAOeD5QxV8Xc=
 
Note that there is no whitespace in the signature.

LocalBitcoins.com uses Bitcoin to digitally sign its receipts

LocalBitcoins.com uses Bitcoin digital signatures for receipts that can be verified actually were written by Localbitcoins.com. We also have a convenient form for verifying any Bitcoin message without installing the Bitcoin software.

Let's follow through with an example. With the signature you can verify that LocalBitcoins.com's Bitcoin address 1Q1wVsNNiUo68caU7BfyFFQ8fVBqxC2DSc has signed, for example, the following message:
Localbitcoins.com will change the world
Changing the message, address or signature by just one letter makes the verification fail. Try it now on our online verification page!

Follow LocalBitcoins.com on Facebook, Twitter, Google+.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

International message and email delivery updates

Hi! My name is Andrei and I have had the pleasure to join the LocalBitcoins.com team recently as a software developer.  Now I have happy news for all of you.

We have fixed some outstanding issues related to handling email and communications between exchange transaction participants in LocalBitcoins.com system. Now email delivery is more reliable, international characters are less likely to get skewed in the process. We also enhanced anonymization of email exchange, so that all email addresses in message bodies are automatically hidden when you reply to exchange messages, so that you cannot leak out your email address accidentally. The privacy of our users is utmost important for us.

If you have any idea how we can make the service better for you please don't hesitate to contact us at support@localbitcoins.com.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Feedback system overhaul

We have learned that creating a functioning marketplace is a very difficult problem. Now we have tried to improve the marketplace by creating an overhaul to the feedback system.

In the new system, feedback is always enabled when an request is finished in a way or another. However, localbitcoins.com system tries to determine "confirmed" status for feedbacks with an algorithm. A confirmed status means that we have strong confidence that the feedback is legit.

Also users can block other users with the feedback mechanism. This helps stopping escrow spammers or buyers, who try to hedge bitcoin price using the system.

Our next goal is trying to limit the advertisement spam in the system. Also fine-tuning the processes more fluid.

Monday, January 21, 2013

UK Lloyds bank faster payments having problems

Information for our users from United Kingdom: Lloyds is having problems with faster payments. This might affect some customers, who are using the online selling feature in UK.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21123618

Monday, January 7, 2013

Localbitcoins.com advertisements mistakenly removed!

Recently we have been getting lots of complaints from unresponsive advertisers. In response to this, we implemented the following:

- After 30 days from last login, warning email is sent- After 37 days from last login, advertisement is disabled.

This was clearly a mistake, since after that we got complaints from real sellers whose ads were real. The problem is that last login is pretty bad indicator - it is possible to conduct the trades without logging in to localbitcoins via the email system etc.

Anyway, we try to put in a better system. We are sorry for everyone whose ads were deleted mistakenly.

If your ad was mistakenly deleted, you have to create it again. Sorry for the incident.