LocalBitcoins is much more than a convenient service for purchasing Bitcoin- it tells interesting stories on how cryptocurrencies are spreading, and why they have gained attention in different localities.

The latest months paint some interesting pictures of how this peer-to-peer, semi-anonymous system works. The usage of LocalBitcoins coincides with countries that have lively cryptocurrency communities. But other cases reveal not only hobby-level interest, but a necessity- as is the case with Venezuela.

The usage of the service was relatively small, but it is growing exponentially as the country's crisis deepens and the state turns to cryptocurrencies.

Global usage has grown by 50 to 100% since the summer months, as some markets increased buying. The ban on Chinese exchanges drove investors to use LocalBitcoins for a while, before some of the exchanges moved from mainland China.

The volumes in nearby Hong Kong also increased at the same time.

And while sometimes LocalBitcoins is used by skilled buyers, it is also a gathering place for newcomers, which often meet with problems and scams. The peer-to-peer, unverified nature of this service allows for such events, despite the escrow protections.

Older users advice sellers to keep a documentation of the deal. The reason for this is that while buyers can have their cash payment refunded or stopped, a Bitcoin sent over the network is not retreivable. Others advice to ask for a bank transfer instead of a card payment, which contains sender data and transaction information and cannot be claimed back.

Recently, there were plans to open a similar service for Bitcoin Cash. Litecoin and Monero are also sometimes sold at local exchange services, although with much smaller volumes.

LocalBitcoins sells at a premium, but its main advantage is the lack of regulations and verifications that apply to exchanges. LocalBitcoins does not verify customers, because it only acts as a meeting place, not a settlement or trading platform.