Face-to-face (payment method)

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Bisq can arrange for face-to-face (F2F) trades to buy and sell bitcoin.

Done correctly, this may be the only payment method that can be both private and anonymous. But there are a number of things you should consider when doing a F2F trade on Bisq.

F2F trades are technically very similar to online trades. In fact, to carry out a F2F trade, you follow the exact same process within the Bisq software as you would for any other trade. The difference is in how the buyer pays the seller: instead of paying through a financial intermediary (like a bank or other money transfer service), the buyer meets the seller in real life and pays with cash.

Meeting your trading partner

Doing a transaction face-to-face means you’ll be coming within close proximity of a stranger to exchange relatively substantial value.

Be safe

People do local, in-person commerce all the time, all over the world. Incidents are rare, but they do happen. You should be cognizant of risks and do your part to minimize potential harm.

Guard your data. When you set up a face-to-face payment account in Bisq, you’ll need to provide contact information so you can arrange a meeting with your trading partner. Make sure this information isn’t traceable back to your property or identity.

Meet in a neutral public place. Meeting your trading partner in a place with witnesses and security cameras significantly reduces the chance of an incident.

Don’t bring more than you need. Even in a public place, incidents can still happen, but you can limit the chance even further by limiting valuables on your person that would interest a thief in the first place.

Bring backup. Consider bringing a friend with you. Also, depending on the laws in your area & your own comfort, consider carrying a concealed tool for self-defense. Even pepper-spray can hobble a criminal just enough to get you out of immediate danger.

Validate payment

Face-to-face trades are usually settled with cash. Cash is wonderfully anonymous, but it can be counterfeited. Be sure you know the basics of detecting counterfeit currency. For example, there are several characteristics of US dollar bills one can examine to quickly determine fakes with high accuracy.

You could look for tools like counterfeit pens to do the work for you, but make sure you do thorough research before picking one. Counterfeit pens, for example, are often not reliable.

If you’d rather not take the chance of carrying or accepting cash, consider meeting at a bank where you can validate a buyer’s payment on the spot.

Ensure you follow Bisq protocol

Ultimately, the deal will be completed in Bisq. Buyers must mark payment as sent before sellers can release assets.

Buyers should bring a laptop with them so they can mark the payment as sent. Otherwise, the buyer will end up paying the seller and have to walk away without the bitcoin they paid for (since the seller won’t be able to acknowledge receipt of payment before the buyer acknowledges they sent payment).

Sellers should bring a laptop with their Bisq client running no matter what. Once they receive a legitimate payment, they’ll need to mark the payment as received so the assets are released to the buyer. No buyer will want to walk away after paying without proof of a complete deal.

Disputes

The lack of verifiable actions makes handling face-to-face disputes much harder.

This is why we highly recommend that both parties bring laptops and acknowledge their ends of the deal on the spot.

Otherwise, the same dispute process is in place for F2F trades, but be advised that mediators and arbitrators often won’t have a way to settle disputes. In such cases, aggrieved traders can send deposit funds to the donation address and make an appeal to the Bisq DAO.

Having said that, mediators and arbitrators may attempt different tactics to get a handle on the situation. For example, they may ask a potential scammer for ID verification, which is a request a real scammer probably wouldn’t comply with.