Buy Crypto & Bitcoin in California

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  • Popular Exchanges to Buy Crypto & Bitcoin in California
  • eToro exchange logo
    eToro
    • Easy to use crypto & Bitcoin exchange
    • Support for residents of California
    • Your capital is at risk.
    BUY NOW at eToro's Secure Site
  • coinbase exchange logo
    Coinbase
    • High buying limits; supports Bitcoin & crypto
    • California residents can buy fast -- quick verification
    • Deposit with debit card, ACH, and wire transfer
    BUY NOW at Coinbase's Secure Site
  • coinbase pro logo
    Coinbase Pro
    • Some of the lowest fees available for US customers
    • High liquidity; good for buying large amounts of crypto
    • Based in the USA
    BUY NOW at Coinbase's Secure Site

CoinbaseCoinbase
Buy Now at Coinbase's Secure Site

Coinbase is the largest Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency broker in California. They represent an easy and fast way for new users to purchase crypto. Coinbase charges 3.99% fees for debit card purchases but you can get your coins instantly.

Another payment option for US customers is using a connected bank account. The fees are less for this method--1.49%--but your coins are only delivered after five days.

Get up to $36 in free crypto when you signup using Coinbase Earn.

Pros
  • High liquidity and buying limits
  • Easy way for newcomers to get bitcoins
  • "Instant Buy" option available with debit card
Cons
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Ease of Use
Easy
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Privacy
Low
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Average
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Fees
Average
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Reputation
Trusted
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Limits
High
Buy Now Read Review

Coinbase ProCoinbase Pro
Buy Now at Coinbase Pro's Secure Site

Coinbase's exchange, Coinbase Pro, is one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in the United States. Users can fund their accounts via bank transfer, SEPA, or bank wire. Coinbase Pro offers good prices and low fees, but their confusing user interface may initially prove difficult to navigate.

Pros
  • Some of the lowest fees available for US and EU customers
  • Possible to buy bitcoins for 0% fees
Cons
  • User interface is confusing for first time buyers
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Ease of Use
Hard
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Privacy
Low
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Speed
Average
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Fees
Low
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Reputation
Trusted
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Limits
High
Buy Now Read Review

Buy Now at Gemini's Secure Site

Gemini is one of the most trusted exchanges operating in California. Californians can fund their Gemini account using both ACH or Bank Wire transfer. Best of all, verification is fast and if you run into any trouble, Gemini is known for fantastic customer service.

Pros
  • Trustworthy and regulated exchange
  • Instant deposit lets you buy coins quickly (but not withdraw them)
  • Some of the lowest fees in the US and Canada
Cons
  • Somewhat confusing to use for new buyers
  • Not yet available in all US states
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Ease of Use
Hard
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Privacy
Low
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Speed
Slow
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Fees
Low
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Trusted
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High
Buy Now

Buy Now at Bitcoin IRA's Secure Site

Bitcoin IRA offers a tax-advantaged way for California residents to invest in Bitcoin and Ethereum using their 401k or other retirement savings.

Bitcoin IRA is a California licensed IRA custodian, so you know your crypto or Bitcoin IRA is in full compliance with the Federal Government.

Pros
  • Tax Advantaged Bitcoin Savings
  • Easy to set up account
Cons
  • Cannot custody the Bitcoin yourself
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Ease of Use
Average
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Privacy
Low
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Speed
Fast
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Fees
Low
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Reputation
Trusted
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Limits
High
Buy Now

Buy Now at Coinmama's Secure Site

Coinmama allows customers in California to buy Bitcoins, Litecoins, Ethereum and many other coins with a credit or debit card or bank transfer.

They charge a 4.9%-5.9% (depends on volume) fee on credit card purchases.

Customers in California can pay a lower fee when purchasing crypto with bank transfer.

Pros
  • Works in almost all countries
  • Highest limits for buying bitcoins with a credit card
  • Reliable and trusted broker
Cons
  • Some of the highest fees among credit/debit card bitcoin brokers
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Ease of Use
Easy
privacy icon
Privacy
Low
speed icon
Speed
Fast
fees icon
Fees
Average
reputation icon
Reputation
Trusted
limits icon
Limits
High
Buy Now Read Review

Buy Now at Swan Bitcoin's Secure Site

Swan Bitcoin is a dollar cost averaging Bitcoin exchange, where users can set up recurring Bitcoin purchases to be drafted from their bank account or credit card every month or week.

Get $10 in free BTC when you make your first purchase.

Pros
  • Easy to set up
  • Automated dollar cost averaging
  • Very low fees
Cons
  • First purchase takes awhile
  • No way to sell on platform
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Ease of Use
Hard
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Privacy
Low
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Speed
Fast
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Fees
Low
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Reputation
Trusted
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Limits
High
Buy Now

Buy Now at Bitcoin ATMs's Secure Site

You can use our Bitcoin ATM map to buy bitcoins with cash. Bitcoin ATMs can be a quick and easy way to buy bitcoins and they're also private. That convenience and privacy, however, comes with a price; most ATMs have fees of 5-10%.

Pros
  • Our map makes it super easy to find a Bitcoin ATM near you
Cons
  • Bitcoin ATMs often have 5-10% fees per purchase
Buy Now

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Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Trading in California


California, home to Silicon Valley and a large chunk of the U.S. tech industry, is unsurprisingly at the forefront of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency development. In addition to the startup culture and deep talent pool, California also has the most venture capital funding of any state in the U.S., making it easy (or easier) for good ideas to get the support they need.

Regulation has so far been very minimal, which has allowed exchanges to flourish. This stands in comparison to states like New York, whose restrictive BitLicense has led to an exodus of exchanges from the state.

Two of the largest and most trusted cryptocurrency exchanges - Coinbase and Kraken - are both headquartered in San Francisco. Kraken ceased its operations in New York after the introduction of the BitLicense, though both exchanges have been active participants in the drafting of California state law pertaining to cryptocurrencies. This will hopefully usher in a clear framework that supports individuals and exchanges engaging in crypto-related activities.

Exchanges are the safest and easiest way to get your hands on crypto, whether you're looking to buy Bitcoin or an always-expanding range of altcoins.

But if you'd prefer to buy Bitcoin with cash, you're in luck. Our Bitcoin ATM locator lists over 1,000 locations in California where you can buy Bitcoin in as little as 15 minutes. See below for more on Bitcoin ATMs.

According to CoinTracker, California is home to 6 out of the top 10 cities in the United States with the most crypto users per capita. San Francisco, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, and San Mateo sweep spots 3 through 8.

Satoshi in Suburbia?

One of the more bizarre chapters of Bitcoin history also took place in California, when a media circus descended upon a retired physicist's house in Temple City, half an hour east of Los Angeles.

It kicked off when an article published in Newsweek claimed that Dorian Nakamoto, who was born Satoshi Nakamoto in Japan, was the creator of Bitcoin. After graduating from Cal Poly Pomona, Nakamoto had worked on classified defense projects and as a computer systems engineer for IT and financial services companies.

When asked by Newsweek if he had been involved with Bitcoin, Nakamoto replied: "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it. It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."

Following the publication of the article and the subsequent media attention it drew, Dorian Nakamoto firmly denied that he had ever been involved with or even heard of Bitcoin. He also clarified his previous remarks, where he claimed "I am no longer involved with it" - the only non-circumstantial piece of evidence in the case that he was Satoshi. He had interpreted the question as referring to his work on classified government and private industry projects, rather than the peer-to-peer cryptocurrency.

Whether this episode was the closest we have ever got to unmasking the real Satoshi Nakamoto or just another example of our eager wish to put a face to the name is up to you to decide.

How to Buy Bitcoin in California

One of the easiest ways to buy Bitcoin in California is through the cryptocurrency exchanges outlined above. There are several exchanges offering Bitcoin in California, and you can easily select one based on your requirements and preferences using our guide. Different exchanges have different transaction fees, withdrawal limits, payment modes, and verification processes that need to be kept in mind before users select one.

Additionally, Bitcoin buyers need to keep in mind the fact that certain exchanges might require them to get a wallet of their own before they are able to buy the digital currency. Also, it is recommended to have a wallet of your own for security reasons, preferably a hardware wallet. If you don’t have a wallet, refer to our guide on the Best Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Wallets to choose one.


COMPARISON

ledger nano x folded

Ledger Nano X

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2019
  • PRICE: $145
ledger nano s illustration

Ledger Nano S

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2016
  • PRICE: $72
trezor model T

TREZOR T

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2018
  • PRICE: $189
Trezor One

TREZOR One

  • SCREEN:
  • RELEASED: 2013
  • PRICE: $79

Another way to buy Bitcoins in California is through automated teller machines (ATMs). These ATMs allow users to instantly purchase the cryptocurrency using cash, and most of them only require a telephone number for verification, so long as you aren’t buying a lot of Bitcoin. This makes them more private than exchanges.

LocalBitcoins is another option. Here, you can buy and sell Bitcoin for a wide range of payment methods, from gift cards to bank transfers. LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange, where you buy and sell with another individual. This does introduce a degree of risk, though by ensuring that you conduct all business on the platform, make use of its escrow services, and only trade with users who have a good reputation, you'll minimize any potential problems.


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Top Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Exchanges in California


California has access to many large Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges.

Take a look at our favorites below:

  • Popular Exchanges to Buy Crypto & Bitcoin in California
  • eToro exchange logo
    eToro
    • Start trading fast; high limits
    • Easy way for newcomers to get bitcoins
    • Your capital is at risk.
  • coinbase exchange logo
    Coinbase
    • High liquidity and buying limits
    • Easy way for newcomers to get bitcoins
    • "Instant Buy" option available with debit card
  • coinbase pro logo
    Coinbase Pro
    • Some of the lowest fees available for US and EU customers
    • Possible to buy bitcoins for 0% fees
    • Run by Coinbase

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Best Bitcoin Wallets for California



There are three main types of Bitcoin wallet and all of them are supported in California:

  • Software (desktop or mobile - iOS and Android wallets
  • Hardware wallet
  • Cold-storage (paper or steel wallets, the latter of which are used to backup your main wallet.

Best for Security

ledger nano x

Ledger Nano X

Secure storage for any cryptocurrency

More About
Ledger Nano X

The Ledger Nano X is the newest crypto hardware wallet, and is very easy to use. It connects to iOS, Android & desktop computers.

Temporary Wallet

zengo wallet logo

Zengo

Best for storing crypto for short period of time

More About
Zengo

ZenGo is an easy-to-use iOS and Android Bitcoin & crypto wallet. Start within 20 seconds.

Best for Desktop

electrum logo

Electrum

Simple yet powerful desktop wallet

More About
Electrum

Electrum is a Bitcoin-only wallet that has been around since 2011. It's easy to use, but has advanced features.


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Ethereum How to Buy Ethereum in California


Ethereum (ETH) has established itself as the second most popular digital currency, after Bitcoin. Its smart contract features allow unique apps to be built on top of its platform. Below you will find exchanges in California that allow you to buy ethereum. Once you buy, you should withdrawal your ETH directly to your own crypto wallet.


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Dogecoin How to Buy Dogecoin in California


Thanks to Tesla founder Elon Musk, Dogecoin (DOGE)—a coin that started as a meme about the shiba inu dog—has recently become a popular digital currency. Below you can find crypto exchanges in Canada that allow you purchase Dogecoin.

About Dogecoin: Dogecoin has become one of the most famous altcoin blockchains. Dogecoin was founded by Jackson Palmer and Billy Markus on December 6, 2013. Thanks to its popularity on Robinhood, it hit an all time high of $0.42 on April 20. Doge started the year at under $0.01 USD. It is an open source blockchain, meaning its code is publicly available for anyone to see.


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Litecoin How to Buy Litecoin in California


Litecoin (LTC) is one of largest cryptocurrencies by market cap. Below you can find a list of brokerages in California that allow you to buy litecoin and other crypto assets for good exchange rates.


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Hacks and Crypto Scams in California


In good news for Californian Bitcoiners, neither Coinbase nor Kraken - the state's two largest exchanges - have been compromised to date. Kraken has played an important role in the investigation and distribution of reclaimed funds from the Mt Gox hack, one of the largest exchange hacks so far.


Mt Gox customers wait outside the old offices to ask for their money back
Mt Gox customers wait outside the old offices to ask for their money back. Source

While there may have been no exchange hacks, there have definitely been individuals caught using crypto for illegal purposes, whether it's scamming investors or laundering money.

One Southern Californian man, who went by the username of Superman29, pled guilty to laundering somewhere between $15 and $20 million over a period of five years, from December 2014 to his arrest in November 2019. Kais Mohammad accepted cash from customers and laundered it through a network of Bitcoin ATMs that he owned, located in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernadino counties.

Undercover agents processed multiple transactions on Mohammed's ATMs, all of which should have been reported to FinCEN - the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. An agent also met with Mohammed in person and gave him $16,000 which he said had been obtained by illicit means. He received in return 1.58592 BTC, without the transaction being flagged. Mohammed pleaded guilty and now faces up to 30 years in federal prison.

Another case that occurred in California highlights the importance of app-based or hardware two-factor authentication in securing your account. A group of hackers, many of them just teenagers, stole more than $35 million worth of crypto from 50 victims by SIM swapping their phone numbers and gaining access to exchange accounts.

SIM swapping involves using social engineering to convince a telephone provider like AT&T or Verizon to port a particular phone number over to a new SIM card, one in the control of the scammer. Once complete, the scammer can receive all SMS verification codes, which can be used to change account passwords and authorize withdrawals.

While the blame rests squarely on the fraudsters, this kind of attack wouldn't be possible if the victims had kept their funds in a secure wallet rather than a web-based exchange. Hackers will never be able to access your Bitcoin wallet via SIM swapping if you keep your private key to yourself.

In this case, some of the attackers were brought to justice and punished to the full extent of the law. Joel Ortiz, 21, was sentenced in a Santa Clara court to 10 years in prison for what was the first prosecuted case of SIM swapping in the U.S.

The takeway for crypto users is simple: Use a secure form of two-factor authentication (2FA), and keep any funds you're not willing to lose in a secure wallet, with hardware wallets being among the safest.


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FAQ


Does Binance Work in California?

Binance homepage

Yes, Binance is available for customers in California.

However, you cannot simply go to binance.com and sign up for an account.

Binance has a special website for US based customers at Binance.us

Due to US regulations, Binance US is more strict about handling KYC and AML of new customers.

This just means that verification may take a little longer than it would on regular Binance.

The biggest difference between Binance US and regular Binance is the coin support as well as some of the features available to users.

Because of this, you shouldn’t just look at the supported coins listed on binance.com and assume Binance US will sell it to you. It’s a good idea to make sure that the Binance US coin support list shows the coin you want to buy.

Does Coinbase Work in California?

coinbase homepage

Coinbase has its headquarters in downtown San Francisco, and as you'd expect its full suite of services is available to California residents.

Coinbase notes that its USD wallet is only available in states "where Coinbase is either licensed to engage in money transmission, where it has determined that no such license is currently required, or where licenses are not yet being issued with respect to Coinbase's business." California falls into the second camp: there is no requirement for any crypto exchange to register as a money transmitter in the state of California. This means that Coinbase can operate without restriction. You can bet that the exchange will be the first to apply for a license if (or more likely when) California introduces this requirement for virtual currency service providers.

Does Gemini Work in California?

gemini homepage

Gemini is based out of New York City, from where it has established a reputation as a regulation and institution-friendly exchange. It offers a range of services to individual investors, from advanced trading interfaces to fee-free wire transfers, both for deposits and withdrawals.

Gemini is available in California, as well as every other U.S. state.

Does Coinmama Work in California?

coinmama homepage

Coinmama does work in California, with no restrictions. This means that all Californian residents are able to buy and sell any of Coinmama's 10 supported digital assets.

Does Kraken Work in California?

kraken homepage

Kraken, like Coinbase, is located in San Francisco and provides full service to California residents.

The only two U.S. states not supported by Kraken are New York (due to the BitLicense) and Washington state.

Where Can I Find a Bitcoin ATM in California?

California is exceptionally well served with Bitcoin ATMs. There are hundreds in the state, meaning you should never be too far from an ATM if you need to buy or sell Bitcoin in person. Many machines also support a handful of the next largest digital assets, such as Ethereum (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC).

You can use our Bitcoin ATM finder tool to find the one nearest you.

What Can I Buy With Bitcoin in California?

It has not always been easy to find retailers willing to accept Bitcoin outside of some niche industries, and of course the numerous darknet markets that began with the Silk Road and have proliferated since then.

In the last few years, however, more and more stores have been offering payment with crypto. The Microsoft Store supports payment with Bitcoin, and Overstock.com's partnership with Coinbase allows you to pay for any of their products with crypto.


california bitcoin retailers heatmap

Source: CoinMap.com


Coinmap has a list of brick and mortar retailers that accept Bitcoin for payment.

A number of charities accept Bitcoin for donations. Wikileaks and Wikipedia are two of the biggest and best known. The Tor Project accepts Bitcoin donations, and in addition to BTC the Electronic Frontier Foundation also takes DAI, Dash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, and Zcash.

Some big news recently has massively expanded the number of businesses where you will be soon able to spend your Bitcoin. PayPal - a California company headquartered in San Jose - announced in October 2020 that customers will be able to buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash within their platform. Additionally, you will be able to spend your crypto at all of the 26 million sellers around the world, whether it's paying for your monthly Netflix subscription or shopping on eBay. This feature - which is scheduled to launch in the U.S. in early 2021 - is a giant leap toward mainstream Bitcoin usage and adoption.

How Can I Mine Bitcoin in California?

Bitcoinmining is the process of using a computer to perform the difficult calculations that secure the network and make Bitcoin a proof of work cryptocurrency.

While in the early days of Bitcoin you could earn sizable amounts of Bitcoin (and many people did) with just a desktop computer, these days the emergence of commercial mining farms with specialized hardware has made that all but impossible. Still, there are software programs you can run on any computer if you wish to see how it works just for curiosity's sake.

The truth is, there is no real way to profitably mine in California right now.

Which California Banks Support Bitcoin Wallets?

With more and more institutions getting into crypto - and especially Bitcoin - you might be wondering if you can custody your own BTC with a bank. It's easy to imagine a future where you can log in to your online banking and simultaneously see that your paycheck has come through while watching the value of your crypto portfolio.

That future, however, is not a reality just yet. Banks do not currently offer cryptocurrency wallets to retail investors. You'll need to secure your holdings with one of the many great wallets outlined above.

There has definitely been a large amount of progress in that direction, though. Every year it gets easier to invest in Bitcoin, and crypto services become more and more beginner friendly. JPMorgan's recent announcement that it will be providing banking services for Coinbase and Gemini is a sign that big things may be just around the corner.

How Much Does It Cost To Get a Bitcoin ATM in California?

Bitcoin ATMs vary widely in price depending on the features you need.

Let's take for an example General Bytes' BATMThree. The base model starts at $5999, without delivery.

general bytes batmthree

Adding an internal safe to the machine which secures cash with a code lock will add $1270.

A maximum input capacity of 600 banknotes is standard. Room for 1200 notes will cost an extra $313, and 2200 notes $600. Output volume (for cryptocurrency sale transactions) begins at 0 and goes up to 3100 banknotes, which will add $3150 to the model's price. A banknote recycler allows the machine to output banknotes inputted by customers and costs $958.

NFC-equipped card output ($300) allows the machine to dispense NFC cards which store private keys. This is like a paper wallet, but more durable.

Finally, you can also opt for a GSM alarm ($199), which includes a siren, SMS notifications, and a GPS tracker.

A fully specced-out BATMThree will cost $11,518. You may not require any or all of these optional extras, depending on the purpose you've got in mind for your Bitcoin ATM.

There are plenty of models on the market, some intended to sit on a countertop while others take up as much room as a traditional ATM.


price bitcoin atm

Who Regulates the Bitcoin Exchanges in California?

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges in California are regulated on the state level by the State Assembly, which has passed a number of bills relating to cryptocurrencies and digital assets.

First, in 2014, was Assembly Bill 129, which removed an obsolete ban on Bitcoin and allowed it to be used for purchasing goods and transmitting payments.

In 2015, AB 1326 was approved 55-32. This legislation called for digital currency companies (exchanges being the largest in this category) to be regulated similarly to banks. The bill enacts the Digital Currency Business Enrollment Program, which is administered by the Commissioner of Business Oversight who is in charge of defining rules and regulations relating to cryptocurrency companies. Crypto firms were mostly happy with this legislation, as it provided a wide range of exemptions and only applied to businesses that maintained full custody of client funds or operated as exchanges. Additionally, it did not lay out any specific restrictions or requirements, but rather opened up a pathway for stakeholders to consult with the Commissioner of Business Oversight.

Cryptocurrency operations in California are also subject to federal law, such as the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 and various other anti-money laundering statutes.

About the Author: Jordan Tuwiner

author

Jordan Tuwiner is the founder of BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com. His work has been featured in The Guardian, International Business Times, Forbes, VentureBeat, CoinDesk and many other top Bitcoin media outlets. His articles are read by millions of people each year looking for the best way to buy Bitcoin and crypto in their country.

He has also written extensively about the history, technology, and business of the crypto world. Jordan is also the creator of some of the internet's most famous Bitcoin pages, including The Quotable Satoshi and Bitcoin Obituaries.

To learn more about Jordan, see his full bio.