Peer-to-peer (P2P) trading exchange platform Localbitcoins hit a volume of nearly $16 million (USD) last week. This marked an all time high for the platform as the United States, Malaysia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Sweden all hit record highs in volume last week.
So What is Localbitcoins?
Localbitcoins is much like one part eBay, one part craigslist, and one part Bitstamp. The other one part is reserved for Localbitcoins (LBC) because they have a flare of their own and were the first true P2P exchange on the market. Buyers and sellers engage by creating advertisements of their own wording for the listing on the market and then transacting based on the quantity, price, and method of payment with the other party when initiating a trade.
It's the fastest way to buy bitcoin 24 hours a day. There's a small fee for that. That convenience comes with a price where vendors typically charge between 5% and 35%, which is near the range of ATM machines (4%-26%) that transact bitcoin.
It's Not Just Local Anymore
The Local in Localbitcoins came from the original model where traders would initiate a trade and meet in person to exchange cash for bitcoins. These days, whereas you can still conduct a local trade, the majority of the methods used for exchange are online and we're not just talking about PayPal or Credit Cards.
Just about everything under the Sun can be traded from Amazon.com and Walmart gift cards to Gold and things like Popmoney (ever hear of that one?) to even Pizza, Uber rides, and iPhones. The Other Payment Method category is one of the user base favorites and there's been a wealth of unique and abundant methods used to transact bitcoin.
LBC acts as an escrow service between traders and earn their revenue with the 1% required on all sales using the platform. In the event of a dispute, administrators investigate the claim usually within 24 to 48 hours and ultimately award the release to one of the parties based on the information they are able to provide to prove the right to the bitcoin.
Normally this is is not required and buyers and sellers conduct the transaction on their own. Once the buyer completes payment, they lock the escrow while the selling party checks for completion. When the transaction is considered complete by the selling party, the seller releases the bitcoin to the buyer.
Aside from trading, there's a community that gathers on the LBC forum and it is one of the more interesting places in the industry. The real-time social platform powered by Muut is alive 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You'll find everything from scam alerts, to development tips and code, to conversations about various digital currency pricing. What you'll also find are people complaining about everything, fights, accusations, and the Useless Thread. The forum is not always for the lighthearted but there is allot of good information there. The rest is somewhat entertaining and of course there's the Useless Thread (UT).
The UT is a thread started in February of 2015 and has been ongoing ever since used as a real time "conversation" tool on just about any topic. Currently (as of November 2, 2016) the thread has nearly 34,000 posts, which is not only the largest thread on LBC by far (the next closest is a dead thread about PayPal cards that hit over 6,000 and the rest are under 2000), it's a large thread as far as threads go in general, especially Muut threads due to the age of the platform.
The forum usually has anywhere from 10 to 1000 community members on at all times and that's been growing lately as well.
This certainly points to growing adoption of bitcoin, but moreover, it shows that alternate methods of purchasing bitcoin aside from exchanges or over-the-counter services is becoming increasingly more popular. This is not only because of anonymity (many traders require in-depth KYC) but for the wide variety of payment methods available and the 24/7 operating hours without the limitations found with exchanges.
Where else can you get 8 grand worth of bitcoin on a Saturday night? There's just a handful of places unless you're close to an ATM and you might end up paying more there.