Bitcoin is constantly making headlines. We’re getting a little sick of hearing about it, to be totally honest. As Bitcoin becomes mainstream, we hear stories of the crypto-savvy investor buying Bitcoin in its early years and becoming a millionaire. Which leaves more investors asking, “Why not me?” In 2021, IRA investors are increasingly diversifying with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Self-Directed Bitcoin IRA investing can deliver high yields along with the tax benefits of non-digital investment. Here’s a brief primer on Bitcoin and three steps investors can take to start making their own Bitcoin investments using a Self-Directed IRA-owned Business Trust. Bitcoin Basics With cryptocurrencies, encryption is used to make new currency units and perform transactions. All this is done in a decentralized system and records are kept in a blockchain, which is a type of digital ledger. Bitcoin, released in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, is one of thousands of cryptocurrencies but is easily the most popular. Bitcoin must be stored using an online digital wallet or in a personal computer. Due to hacking concerns, some owners use a hardware wallet (a USB-like device protected with a PIN code). Bitcoin Gets Attention From Investors Bitcoin turned heads in the investment world by going from a price of under $1 in 2011 to $40,111 on January 14, 2021. The highs and lows have attracted headlines, as in December of 2017, when prices doubled in a matter of weeks. As I write this, its current U.S. value is $33,626.60. Bitcoin’s wider adoption and impressive gains led to the “Bitcoin IRA,” bringing the flashy new investment into the stodgy world of traditional retirement accounts. Bitcoin Meets the IRA A traditional IRA (individual retirement account) doesn’t permit alternative investments such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. They’re not really known for trying new things. But what about the Self-Directed IRA (SDIRA), with its more flexible structure? The IRS doesn’t list Bitcoin as a forbidden investment (only list life insurance and collectibles are specified as non-permissible IRA investments). Check out our article, Our 3 Most Popular Self-Directed IRA Investments, to see what else is (and is not) permitted. How to Invest in Bitcoin Using a Self-Directed IRA #1 Do Your Research The information I’ve provided about Bitcoin is a good primer, but is by no means a substitute for doing your own due diligence. Be prepared for the uncertainty that surrounds Bitcoin as a new investment. Also, since Bitcoin isn’t under a regulated system don’t expect the same type of publicly available financials you’d find with traditional stocks or mutual funds. You can educate yourself on how the IRS deals with Bitcoin investments; a good cryptocurrency resource is Investopedia. #2 Choose the Right IRA Custodian The “custodian” is the financial services company that manages your retirement account for you. To learn more, check out our article, Why Your Self-Directed IRA Needs A Special Custodian. Traditional IRA custodians won’t even think about it, but if you’re in the market for the self-directed version, you’ll need to make sure your IRA custodian is IRS-approved and allows Bitcoin investments. Still, you probably won’t enjoy true checkbook control over your account. Your SDIRA is self-directed (as the name says), but it isn’t “self-managed.” This means you can’t write a check out yourself for a Bitcoin transaction without a custodian approving the transaction. The processing time can hurt you when you’re trying to buy or sell quickly. Also, the fees can add up when choosing this route. This doesn’t mean you should give up on Bitcoin investing with a Self-Directed IRA. Royal Legal Solutions may be able to help you eliminate the custodial overhead. Many of our clients are Bitcoin investors who enjoy direct control over their IRA investments. Start with our investor quiz to see if you can take advantage of our custodial services. #3 Choose a Good Cryptocurrency Exchange Once your Self-Directed IRA is setup and you have direct access to your funds, you’re ready to purchase Bitcoin. Choose a reputable exchange and understand its fee structures. More importantly, be aware of any security flaws and hacking issues. Currently, Coinbase and Kraken are some of the most reputable exchanges. #4 Choose a Good Cryptocurrency Wallet For those new to cryptocurrency, this step may seem like the hardest to understand. A cryptocurrency wallet isn’t a physical wallet, although it can take physical form as a hardware digital wallet. Wallets are accessed via a private key, which is a hexadecimal code that you should guard just as you would a security box key. Like a bank account, the wallet holds your balance and a reference to all transactions. It’s also where you can send and receive currency. Think about security when choosing a wallet. Online wallets are convenient and usually offer a mobile version. However, they are susceptible to hackers. Hardware wallets are more secure because they hold the private key in an offline, unhackable device. #5 Keep Your BTC Investments in Compliance The “self-dealing” rules that apply to other alternative assets also apply to Bitcoin. For instance, an investor can’t sell Bitcoin to his own IRA nor can any of his family members. This can disburse the IRA or lead to a taxable event. Also, be mindful of annual reporting requirements which require market valuations similar to real estate properties. #6 Enjoy Tax-Deferred Earnings With a Self-Directed IRA you can apply the tax-deferral benefits enjoyed by other alternative investments towards Bitcoin. Bitcoin investments can grow unhindered as taxes aren’t applied till funds are disbursed, which can mean decades of growth. #7 Explore Other Cryptocurrency Investments Bitcoin is the most widely-known cryptocurrency. However, once you’ve gotten your feet wet in Bitcoin investing, you can expand towards others currencies such as Ethereum and Litecoin. Like Bitcoin, Litecoin has enjoyed tremendous growth. It’s second to Bitcoin in market capitalization, followed by Ethereum and Ripple. When expanding your Self-Directed IRA, consider what advantages rival currencies have as an alternative to Bitcoin. For instance, Litecoin enjoys faster transaction times and a larger coin supply limit of 84 million compared to Bitcoin’s 21 million. Start Investing Today Like any other investment, investors should complete their due diligence, choose the right custodian and be aware of custodial fees. Check out our Using Your IRA to Invest In Crypto (4 Steps) article while you’re at it. Lastly, keep Bitcoin investments in compliance with IRS regulations. The unique steps Bitcoin investors need to make may be overwhelming at first. They include choosing a cryptocurrency exchange and digital wallet. However, once investors get their feet wet, they’ll be a step ahead in expanding their Self-Directed IRA towards other cryptocurrencies. For now, investors could start off with Bitcoin and other private investments using a Self-Directed IRA.