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A beginner's guide to Monero (XMR)

For many years people were led to believe that purchasing goods via Bitcoin (BTC) was entirely anonymous. However, know your customer (KYC) policies which are now in place at almost all cryptocurrency exchanges (at least those which allow trading for fiat currency), as well as increasingly advanced blockchain analysis have removed much of the anonymity with many cryptocurrencies, and many people involved in illicit trades have subsequently been identified by law enforcement as a result.

The result is that many people looking to make purchases on the dark web are now turning to Monero (often referred to by its codename of XMR), which is a cryptocurrency that was built around the concept of privacy. There is no public ledger of transactions, and there's no way of seeing how much is stored within a certain wallet, unless you are the owner of that wallet. In view of this, many darknet markets have adopted Monero as an alternative to Bitcoin, and in some cases, Monero is the only currency accepted.

Should I start using Monero instead of Bitcoin?
If you are to engage in any form of illicit trading such as making a purchase of a darknet market, then the answer is a resounding YES! Just because many people stil use to trade using Bitcoin, that doesn't mean you should be complacent.
How do I obtain Monero?
Most people who purchase cryptocurrency do so by using an exchange such as Coinbase or Binance, often paying using bank transfer or credit card. However, most exchanges no longer allow direct purchases of Monero using fiat currency due to pressure from legislators around its status as a cryptocurrency, specifically due to money laundering concerns (proving its worth as a privacy currency). It was delisted from Binance in February 2024, but is still available on some large centralized exchanges such as KuCoin and HTX. However, even without using one of these, obtaining Monero is actually pretty easy still, and we're going to tell you how...

STEP 1 - Buy Bitcoin (or a similar cryptocurrency)
There are a huge number of places where you can still buy cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin or Ethereum completely legally, and relatively easily. You could opt to use one of the major platforms such as Coinbase or Binance, or alternatively opt for a smaller trading platform such as Bittylicious. Depending on where you are based will determine which platforms are available to you, but a simple search on DuckDuckGo will bring back many options. Just be sure to check these out of Trustpilot to make sure they are legit and offer a good standard of service before signing up.

It is likely you will need to provide some proof of identity during the sign-up process, and this can include scans of documentation such as driver's licenses or other forms of photo ID. Some sites will even ask for a selfie for further verification. Once the necessary checks are complete, you will then be free to begin purchasing cryptocurrency via card, bank transfer or any other accepted means. Bitcoin or Litecoin are two of the most widely accepted cryptos, such we would suggest purchasing one of these.

STEP 2 - Move your currency to your own wallet
To protect your coins and maximise your anonymity, we strongly advise moving your purchased crypto into a wallet you control as soon as possible, and not leaving funds sitting on an exchange. If you purchased Bitcoin and are using a desktop computer (Windows, Mac or Linux), Electrum Wallet would be our recommendation as it is quick and easy to use, although you could opt for a mobile app such as Cake Wallet. See those respective websites for a setup guide. Exodus Wallet is also a solid option that supports all system types and contains an in-app exchange, however in-app exchanges tend not to provide the best value, as we will explain in the next step...

STEP 3 - Swap your chosen currency for Monero
This next step is actually rather simple, or incredibly simple in some cases. If you opted for Exodus or Cake Wallet, you have the option of an in-app exchange that will allow you to swap your purchased currency (such as BTC) for XMR at the click of a button. However, hold it right there! Before doing so, check what exchange rate you'll be getting. In-app exchanges often charge a relatively high rate, often between 2% and 5%. There are a variety of exchanges that allow fast trades of cryptocurrencies WITHOUT the need to provide any personal details or even register an account.

There are many different sites offering this service both on the clearnet and darknet. Darknet exchanges can offer some very competitive rates and provide the safest way to launder 'dirty' crypto, but naturally by their nature there can always be a higher risk of scams. For reputable darknet exchanges, take a look at our Services & Forums page. However, for the sake of this guide, let's assume the crypto you have obtained is entirely 'clean' (which it should be if it came from a reputable platform). The exchange we will be using in this example is which allows for fast, automated exchanges, without any interactions with another person being required. You simply select the currency you wish to sell, enter in the amount, then select the currency you wish to purchase, which in this case will be Monero. You can select between a fixed rate of 1%, of a 'float' rate of 0.5% (meaning it may go above 0.5% if crypto exchange rates change during the course of the exchange).

You will be shown the amount you can expect to receive, and then asked to provide a receiving address. This will be your Monero wallet. We strongly recommend always sending funds to a wallet you control when using an exchange, not the wallet of a darknet market, as this could potentially compromise your anonymity. If you have an Exodus or Cake Wallet, you will already have a Monero wallet address within that app, but if you used an app such as Electrum, you will need a dedicated Monero wallet. We recommend the Monero GUI wallet which is easy to use and has comprehensive user guides available.

Once you have a Monero wallet address you can receive funds to, simply click on 'Exchange Now' and follow the on-screen instructions. Trades typically complete in less than half an hour. Just make sure you set a sufficiently high fee if using Bitcoin, to allow for the first confirmation to complete swiftly.

Alternatives to FixedFloat include Godex and ChangeHero, among others. All work in a very similar way, but FixedFloat is known for having some of the lowest fees.

STEP 4 - I've received my Monero funds - now what?
Go and spend them! When it comes to Monero, nobody can see any record what funds you're sending where unless they have access to your wallet, and even then, they can't see what the recipient is doing with them. Think of Monero as the cryptocurrency equivalent to an offshore bank account. Finally, you can take back your privacy!

HOLD ON! I don't want any form of KYC - what are my alternatives?
If you really don't know to use a KYC exchange for whatever reason, then we recommend LocalMonero, which allows for peer to peer (P2P) exchanges using a variety of payment methods such as bank transfers, PayPal and even cash by mail. Fees can vary as these are determined by the seller, and you'll need to ensure you are dealing with a trustworthy seller, but there are many out there with an excellent history, and the platform is on hand to assist in the case of any issues.