We are often asked a lot of questions about the price of bitcoin in South Africa. The price of bitcoin is fluid, and is constantly changing 24 hours a day on bitcoin exchanges around the world. Generally people in South Africa use the USD bitcoin price as the ‘international’ bitcoin price, taking that value from big exchanges such as Bitstamp, or BTC-E or Bitfinex for example.
Doing a Google search for the bitcoin price will generally give you a USD price for bitcoin, and if you do a search for the Rand price of bitcoin you will simply get the Google conversion rate of that price converted from USD to Rand.
This is not actually the price of bitcoin in South Africa, it is simply the converted price from USD to ZAR of the bitcoin price. This is not the same as the market rate on one of the bitcoin exchanges in South Africa, based on the supply and demand for bitcoin on that exchange.
Why is the price on Google different to the price on a bitcoin exchange?
The price of bitcoin on an exchange is up to what sellers are willing to accept for a bitcoin, and what buyers are willing to pay for a bitcoin. Sometimes there are sellers who want cash instantly, so they are willing to accept less for their bitcoin so will price it lower. If a buyer wants bitcoin instantly, they might be willing to pay more, so that they will get their order filled first.
Sometimes an exchange will have a lot of people trying to sell bitcoin, and they will be placing lots of sell orders, which could make the price of bitcoin cheaper on that exchange, and the reverse is true too. A lot of buyers on an exchange placing buy orders, could make that exchange have a higher price to buy bitcoin.
Did you know you can exploit the price differences in bitcoin exchanges? This is called bitcoin arbitrage trading.
How much bitcoin will I get for my money?
If you would like to work out how much bitcoin you will get from a Rand amount, you can take the amount you want to spend, and divide it by the current price of bitcoin. (amount / price = btc total)
ALWAYS get the price of bitcoin first, then divide the amount you want to spend by that price. If you are buying bitcoin from different sources and you want to know who which source will give you the most bitcoin for your money, get the price per bitcoin first, so that you can do your calculation.
Divide the Rand amount you want to spend, by the price of bitcoin, for the amount of bitcoin you should receive.
For example: If the price of bitcoin is R8500 and you would like to get R500 worth of bitcoin, then you would divide the amount you want to spend (R500) by the price of bitcoin (R8500) to get your amount of 0.0588BTC. In your calculator, you can put 500 / 8500 = 0.0588.
Lets do another example: If you would like to buy bitcoin to the value of R2250 then you would do the same formula. 2250 / 8500 = 0.2647BTC is what you will get before fees.
Working out Bitcoin exchange fees
If you are buying bitcoin on a bitcoin exchange, be sure to check on the fees that you will get for taking a trade. Generally you are looking at about 1% to buy bitcoin if you are paying the price a seller is advertising for. Some exchanges are a little lower for traders at around 0.8%.
Working it out: If the exchange has a 1% fee, and the price of bitcoin is R8500, then the fee will be R85 to take the trade. You can work that out by multiplying the price of bitcoin by 1.01 eg: R8500 x 1.01 = R8585 including the fee. To work out only your actual fee, multiply by only .01 so R8500 x .01 = R85.00.
To work out what 1% fee is on an amount, multiply that amount on your calculator by .01
100% of a number is 1 of that number. If I give you 100% of R100, then I give you R100. If I give you 30% of R100, then I give you R30. So 1% is the same as .01, and 99% would be .99 before you get 100%, which is 1.00.
If the exchange fee is 0.8% for a trade, then to buy 1 bitcoin @ R8500, you would say 8500 x .008 = R68.00 in fees.
Withdraw fees on a bitcoin exchange
Check the withdraw fees of the exchange you are using too….while most are free to withdraw, some bitcoin exchanges charge a fee of 0.005 bitcoin to withdraw, which at a rate of R8500 per bitcoin is around R42.50!
If there is a withdrawal fee in bitcoin, multiply the price of bitcoin by the BTC fee amount to get the Rand cost of your withdrawal
You can work out the withdrawal fee by multiplying the price of bitcoin by the amount of the fee, eg: 8500 x 0.005=R42.50
The withdrawal fee in bitcoin can put a spanner in the works if you need a specific amount of bitcoin, buy that amount, then withdraw, only to find that the withdrawal fee means you now have less than you needed, and have to purchase more!
How can a withdrawal fee affect the price?
Lets look at an example where bitcoin is R8500 on two exchanges, where exchange ‘A’ has a withdrawal fee of 0.005, and only 0.8% trading fees, and exchange ‘B’ has a 1% trading fee, but free withdrawal.
If the price of bitcoin on an exchange ‘A’ is R8500 and they have a trading fee of 0.8% and a withdrawal fee of 0.005BTC, then 1 bitcoin will cost you: 8500 x 1.008 = R8568 to buy. If you have a withdraw fee of 0.005BTC, that means it will cost you R42.50 to withdraw, making your bitcoin total cost R8610.50
If the price of bitcoin on an exchange ‘B’ is R8500 and they have a trading fee of 1%, and FREE withdrawal, then the price of 1 bitcoin would be 8500 x 1.01 = R8585 total cost.
Both exchanges have the same bitcoin buy price of R8500, but to acquire 1 bitcoin, it costs R8610.50 on exchange ‘A’, and R8585 on exchange ‘B’. This is a difference of R25.50, something to think about when you are looking for the best price.
If the price difference is big enough, it will be worthwhile to do bitcoin arbitrage trading, where you sell bitcoin on the more expensive exchange, and buy bitcoin on the cheaper exchange at exactly the same time, keeping the difference in price as profit. Read our post on bitcoin arbitrage trading to learn more.
How can I buy bitcoin at the USD price?
If you would like to buy bitcoin at the USD price, you need to buy it using USD, which is on a USD based bitcoin exchange. The problem with this is that these exchanges dont accept deposits in Rand, so you need to send them USD.
You can go to your bank to convert some Rand to USD and wire it to the bank account of the overseas exchange to make your deposit, but the problem with this is that
- It costs you time and energy to go to your bank in person to make the transfer
- It takes time, sometimes days for your money to arrive at the bitcoin exchange abroad
- You must convert your money to USD at the bank at their exchange rate
- You must pay a fee to send the money to the USD bank account of the exchange
- You must show your ID and explain your reasons for sending the money
- You are limited to how much money you can send
The time and effort involved in sending money from SA to a USD based bitcoin exchange, as well as the fees and charges involved to make the transfer, add to the cost of the bitcoin you would buy abroad.
If conditions are right, it is possible to go through the effort, buy bitcoin, and still get it cheaper than the going rate on one of the local bitcoin exchanges in South Africa, but often that is not the case. As the users in South Africa grow, the price locally is getting closer and closer to that of the USD based exchanges.
It is often far faster, easier and much safer to just buy bitcoin on a local bitcoin exchange.
What if I need to pay $20 in bitcoin to someone overseas?
This is a tricky one because you are dealing with the Rand / Dollar exchange rate, as well as the Dollar / bitcoin / Rand exchange rate on the exchanges. The best thing to do is instead of trying to get a value in any fiat currency, just get the BTC amount to pay from the website or person you are paying. Forget the $ or Rand value they are asking for as that will fluctuate all day long with the exchange rate. Just get the BTC amount to pay, and send EXACTLY that amount.
Forget the Dollar amount you need to pay, get the BTC total and send exactly that amount.
If you try to convert $20 to Rand, then buy bitcoin with that amount of money and send that, you will most likely send the wrong amount of bitcoin, and you will probably underpay. This will mean you THINK you have paid, and the website or person says you have not, because the total has not been paid.
To avoid this problem forget the Dollar amount you need to pay. Just get the bitcoin amount, and send just that amount for the least amount of hassle.