Welcome to the world cryptobabies
We're guessing you got sent here or stumbled across it on your search of where to buy bitcoin, what you're supposed to do, what all these other kinds of cryptocurrencies are, or to get a better understanding of what it all is and what it means. Well, you're in the right place. Welcome! Scroll down below and you'll find quick instructions on starting for if you're eager to get in right now, followed by a whole lot of specifically curated resources to cut through the noise and for you to take a look through.
Not sure what something means? If the word has a dotted line below it you can hover over it for a quick meaning. There's also a more thorough explanation of a few key points in the questions box as you scroll down. Just like anything (and slightly easier than the bunch of jargon terms in the corporate and tech worlds!) you'll get to know these well as you get more involved.
So how exactly do I start?
Ideally you want to buy during a bit of a dip rather than at the peak of the price and you want to understand what you're buying (if it's coins outside of bitcoin)...so do some research and check what's happening in the markets and take a look at signal finders such as Trading View. Just want to get started? Bitcoin and Ethereum have been the top players so start there.
An exchange is where you'll buy your coins. When you buy, your exchange will automatically create you a crypto wallet which is a virtual address that exists on the blockchain and holds your coins. Each wallet has a public address, like a bank account number, and a private key. Our picks are Coinbase (supports Pounds, US, CAD, AUD & SGD Dollars and Euros) as the easiest and then once you're comfortable there and want to expand into alt coins, try Bittrex or Binance. You'll probably need to get through an identification process depending on your exchange so allow 20 minutes for this step.
Jippie! You've got bitcoin (or another alt coin). You're in! Now ideally you want to move your money into a hardware wallet - also known as cold storage - for the most security. Most people tend to keep small amounts to play with at quick notice on the exchanges and then long term investments or larger sums of money in their hardware wallet. We like Ledger which is one of the best & well priced of the bunch but there are more recommendations below.
Use the resources below to keep reading up and join the communities to understand what's happening. Applications such as Coinigy will become your new best friends if you're getting a little more involved or serious about it.
There are many, many exchanges out there. Some of them are great, some of them are not. Each exchange charges slightly different fees and some charge per trade whilst others take a percentage when you withdraw. Do your research! Here are our favorites and reliable exchanges used across the globe.
- Coinbase is one of the biggest on the market for buying Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. It's extremely easy to use and a fantastic place to start.
- Coinspot is an easy, lovely site that will allow you to quickly exchange a huge amount of alt coins along with your usuals. We love this one for Australian accounts; it's easy and fast.
- Bittrex is another big global one. It supports numerous alt coins (probably the biggest range of them) and allows you to set stop losses which is helpful.
- Other popular exchanges are Bitfinex, Binance and Poloniex. A bit more advanced and allows for varying trading scenarios.
- A multi exchange Bitcoin trading platform for if you trade in various places called Coinigy. It's a paid platform (small monthly cost) with access to numerous exchanges including Bittrex and Gdax.
- Use Coin Data for a monthly bitcoin fee to watch the volume of trading happening, the data of the buy & sell orders and prices and know when to make a move on the coin you're trading.
- You can monitor all blockchain transactions in real-time by going to Blockchain. You can also check on your own transaction by entering the address you’re sending to or from.
- Manage all your cryptocurrencies in an easy portfolio app at Blockfolio.
- Set up your own portfolio and check out other people at CryptoCompare. Monitor the markets, trends and get involved in the community.
- If you're in Australia, you can withdraw numerous cryptos into fiat currency into your bank account, pay to your credit card, or Bpay bills, via Satoshi's Living Room. They make money on the currency spread rather than charging you fees and it's insanely simple. Pretty dandy.
- A list of all the exchanges can be found at Crypto Coin Charts.
- Keep up to date on the latest at Coin Desk or Bitcoin News or Coin Telegraph or Crypto Panic which curates all the headlines of the day.
- A list of all the upcoming ICO's can be found here.
- A calendar of upcoming crypto events.
- Want to see the prices of your selected cryptocurrencies right from the menu bar in your Mac? Coin Ticker is for you.
- If you'd like to tell your grandkids about how much money you could have made, use What if Bitcoin and try not to cry.
You need a hardware wallet to store your main currencies! Here's a few of the best. Check wallets for the currencies you're looking to store.
- Probably the best known wallet is Ledger Wallet. They have two primary products and have done a wonderful job with their design and app interface.
- Trezor - another well known Bitcoin wallet on the market.
- Storing bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, dash and a couple of others Keepkey does a good job.
- You'll ideally want a hardware wallet but Exodus is a great desktop wallet with ShapeShift built in.
- One of the biggest active Slack communities is from Blockstack.
- The official - and very large - Slack of /r/bitcoinmarkets (subreddit).
- This Facebook Group is massive and very active and there are also many local Facebook groups like this Dutch one, so use the Facebook search tool to hopefully find a group in your preferred language or country.
- This Slack channel by Crypto Signals for Crypto trading has a small, active community to start getting into and learning from and they also update on their 10k+ community on Facebook.
- Richard Patey has a growing Facebook community at Flipping Cyrptos.
- The primary reddit channel for cyrptocurrency is /r/cryptocurrency.
- Want to see more Slack channels? Search away using this updated and curated list at Slofile. Tip: you can access lists for all other kinds of topics too!
NEWS & ARTICLES
- Want to understand Bitcoin (and crypto) more and simply? Here's a good explanation as if it were being taught to a 5 year old...which is actually pretty darn helpful.
- What would your portfolio look like if you'd invested $10 in the top 100 currencies as at 1 January 2017? Well, like this. Spoiler: $1k (Euro) initial spend is at about
$33k70k at time of writing. Not a bad investment with no action.
- The Khan Academy has this video explanation of Bitcoin; exactly what it is and what it does.
- This is a good explainer of the blockchain for regular internet users like me and you who want to understand how it actually works.
- The Coin Flash App takes your spare change and invests it in Bitcoin or Ethereum automatically via your Coinbase account. A bit like Acorns but for the main crypto.
- Unchained by the team at Forbes, hosted by the thorough Laura Shin (a female - yay!) talks with industry pioneers about the application of the blockchain technology.
- A big youtube channel (over 120,000 subscribers) in the crypto world is DataDash.
- a16z has been a popular podcast for a long time run by the infamous Andreessen Horowitz VC team. They delve into tech but given how dominant crypto and the blockchain is, plenty of episodes cover those topics with sharp insights.
- A popular Youtube channel World Crypto Network that covers Bitcoin news and other crypto coins. Crypto Daily is also another one.
- A lot of people swear by the BitCoin Uncensored podcast. If you can get past the tone, we're told there is a lot of good information in there.
Lots and lots of cool stuff is being created using the blockchain. Even if you have no idea what it is, you're probably using systems that utilize it, or will in the future. Here are a few we love.
- Blockstack is an internet for decentralized apps where users own their data. With Blockstack, users get digital keys that let them own their identity. Blockstack also uses Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies for simple peer-to-peer payments.
- Iota Data is a pretty big deal. Iota makes it possible to securely store, sell, and access data streams. Also, the website is beautiful.
- We absolutely love what's happening in the solar power space by sharing your grid across your community (thereby cutting out the utility company) and receiving benefits in crypto. There's an implementation happening in Brooklyn, NY and Germany. Also, check out Power Ledger.
- Chain is enterprise-grade blockchain infrastructure that enables organizations to build better financial services from the ground up.
- Medical Chain is already working with the NHS (national UK health provider) on their technology to securely store health records (and a whole lot more). We're pretty passionate about this one - something desperately needed to be done in this space and it looks like they have a great team.
- The blockchain will probably help build The Internet of Things, or at least make it better.
Here's a few fun or established places where there are other applications of cryptocurrency.
Every informed person needs to know about Bitcoin because it might be one of the world's most important developments.
Leon Louw - Nobel Peace prize nominee
So your current cash is tangible - you can touch it. But at the moment, whilst your cash is a physical currency, the vast majority of it is actually digital. It exists on a screen that people transact digitally, rather than being printed or minted. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual decentralized currency that uses cryptography for security. Bitcoin is the first and most famous of these.
Does that mean cryptocurrency is the best thing ever and will be around forever? Well, it's the best thing right now. Something better will likely replace it in the future generations to come because money is constantly evolving and technology continues to improve.
Essentially another word for cryptocurrency and most commonly used to refer to the coins outside of bitcoin (i.e. an alternative coin). All cryptocurrencies are slightly different (because Bitcoin is an open source platform) - or very different - technologies to differentiate themselves and you may have varying reasons to preference one over the other. That might be for ethical reasons, the coins goals and objectives, the technologies & programming languages they use, economic models, distribution methods and what their aims are.
Jane wants to send Bob $100 so Jane gets online (or goes to the bank - but does anyone do that anymore?) and places a transaction to Bob's bank account. Jane's bank then sees this transaction, sends the money to Bob and makes the change in Jane's account. Bob's bank then sees something has been received so it makes the changes to Bob's account to update it accordingly. Hundreds of thousands of transactions occur every day and the only party that has any oversight of them are the banks. You need to trust, and you depend on, a third party business to manage the transaction for you.
Using cryptocurrency on the blockchain, Jane sends a part of a coin (bitcoin or an alt coin) straight into Bob's digital wallet. The transaction ledger is public so everybody can see what happened. There is a public record of every transaction between the wallets (so your privacy is secured - this is pseudonymity). 'Miners' (complex computer and code setups across the world) first verify that the transaction is legitimate and the wallets were updated accurately. Everybody else can go ahead and check what occurred.
Also, billions of people don't have access to banks but they do - or are getting - access to the internet. Kind of makes for a fairer system right?
Mining is the process by which transactions are verified and added to the open, public ledger (numerous transactions making the "chain"), and also the means through which new coins are released. In practical terms, across the world every few minutes, mining computers collect hundreds of pending bitcoin transactions (compiling them into a “block”) and turn them into a complex computational puzzle. The miner (computer) who finds the solution receives bitcoins as a reward. The specialized computer systems validate the transactions and protect the system.
When you're starting out things can feel pretty overwhelming, pretty quickly. Make it easy on yourself and start with simply picking a coin from the market charts and clicking on the coin graph to see if it's trending upwards or downwards. Ideally you want to buy low or in a dip. If your strategy isn't to hold and see what happens, then the rest of your research comes down to reading, reading, reading, understanding a little of the technology where you can, keeping your eye out for special news like partnerships, laws etc and getting involved in the communities to understand more.
Blockchain is a technology not a product, based on distributed data and cryptography. It's most famous usage is creating cryptocurrency but is, and will, be the foundation of an enormous amount more. Essentially something on the blockchain is sent to a network of peers to validate transactions, secure the network, and realize consensus about what exists and what has occurred.
What kinds of things are or will be used with it? China is going to use for their social security system. Accounting systems are going to change. A third party, open system is already verifying the transactions occurred and members of the Big 4 like Deloitte already offer services in blockchain usage and implementation.
Want to read more about how this actually works? Try this article which is meant for regular internet users like you and me.
Because currency always evolves and money is just a story we all believe in to make it work. We started with bartering - exchanging services and goods was our economic way of life. Later livestock (mostly camels, sheep and cows) and grains and salt were commonly accepted as currency. Then around 600 years ago China is credited with creating the first coins made from non-precious metals. Gold & silver coins came about (thank you Turkey) and was measured by the material that made it. Leather money was later harnessed in China (a light style of bank note). We started storing our coins and gold in temples so they would be kept safe. Upon deposit the priest would provide you a paper receipt with the amount of gold (hello banking!). We started using promissory notes instead of gold. The paper held value due to the precious metals held by governments and banks (which replaced temples). For a long time we measured our money using the Gold Standard until Nixon in the 70s.
China created paper money. Cheques became majorly important across the world as an instruction to wire money without carrying it with you. You no longer got gold back for your pieces of paper and they in turn became digits in a computer. Money that used to depend on the value of a rare metal became a number in a computer — a computer a bank or government owns that you can't see. We replaced tangible cash with electronic money via plastic cards. Paypal and others were then able to capitalize on debt and credit cards to move money on the web.
The point? Money is always evolving and we're now moving into the new generation of technology for it. A question was posed - given that money is just digits in a computer logged in a register, backed by a scarce resource, can't there be a way where it's not stored in a central authority? We're in an era of cutting out the middlemen (in this case banks). Thus in 2008 Bitcoin was introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto and here we are now, nearly ten years later.
We're not financial advisers and we're not giving investment advice! We would say, only ever use money you're prepared to lose and make it easy on yourself. A lot of people invest a small amount first, withdraw it when they've made the money back and play with what's left over (so you're not out of pocket). This is a pretty sound way to start! Cyrptos are famously volatile at the moment - and volatility makes money (enormous returns like this are hard to find anywhere else). Or put some spare cash in Bitcoin and leave it there and hope the market keeps going up like it has. Got $500 spare? Put $10 in the top 50 coins and sit on it for 6 - 12 months. See what happens with no action required (if you're happy to also lose that $500!). Just like the rest of life; please be a responsible adult when playing with money.
An Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is the crypto world take on the stock market's IPO. It's a fundraising method where new projects sell their crypto tokens in exchange for bitcoin and ether. There are good ICOs and spam ICOs. Do your research. Google it and join the communities to get the information before you put your money in.
Absolutely. Coinbase is the easiest to get started on for Bitcoin, Litecoin & Ethereum but you'll need to jump on a few others to buy other altcoins. Just like anything it's also good to spread your risk in case anything happens (the whole eggs in one basket story). Remember to check the reviews of the exchange you're on to make sure it's legit.
Absolutely! More and more places are accepting bitcoins (online and in-the-real-world). Many countries are also getting Bitcoin ATMs / cash machines (check out the likes of BitIt and Coin ATM Radar. Across the world you can use Bitwala to send & receive bitcoin, pay bills and convert to prepaid cards. In Australia you can easily pay your bills via Bpay with a lot of currencies at The Living Room of Satoshi. There are also a few lists curating where you can use your bitcoin online at major retailers (hi, Expedia!). You can find them here, here and here.
Yup, probably. Just like they use cash and bank accounts and gold and the internet and other collateral. Crypto isn't a fix for the long running problem of how criminals access money; they already do and probably will for a lot longer.
It's not controlled by an intermediary (i.e bank).
We take for granted that the web is open to everyone - it doesn't discriminate on gender, race, identity etc. But billions of people don't have access to a bank account. Bitcoin aims to change this.
It's quick & easy. You send a transaction wallet to wallet and voila. No holidays, international issues and fees or limitations.
You know those people in Greece who suddenly couldn't withdraw their money because the government restricted it? That can't happen.
Low or no fees with bitcoin payments.
Transactions cannot be reversed and do not attach personal information with them.
You can't just print more bitcoin like banks and governments do so rapid inflation is out.
You own your own account (as opposed to banks who own yours).
Just like net-neutrality is designed to provide a fairer playing ground, decentralization helps us; the actual people in the system. Centralization creates power and power corrupts. Pretty much always. Decentralized technology means nobody is in control so it's non-discriminatory and open for innovation.
In many ways, yes. It already is. It's a pretty exciting time!
I'm not really sure about this whole thing
That makes sense! We were there too (and still have eep, ooooooh, wow, uh-oh days). Investing can feel scary and just like buying a house, your 401k, superannuation, or taking a risk on the stock market - nothing is a sure bet. Also, generally setting up stuff sucks. Your first bitcoin (or other) will be the most time consuming and annoying. Just follow the steps and don't give in to watching This is Us too quickly (or do while you wait!). Remember how frustrating banking used to be when we actually had to go into them and write on paper to move money? Promise it's not that bad. After your first coin, with everything setup, it's easy from there.
As a world we're moving away from our traditional financial instruments (banks are a bit like telcos - we, very reasonably, don't have too much love for them) so this is a little different in that you're buying into something we'll hopefully start using everywhere. Just like driverless cars will be completely normal in a decade or two, it's likely digital currency will too - because when you really think of it, banks controlling your money, and making billions off it whilst knowing every little thing about you, is a pretty crazy thing. Billions of people don't even have access to a bank (hence Kenya's ultra popular and successful M-Pesa). Most tech freaks us out, but stuff like this that actually helps us and our identity as humans, does not.
Do your research, decide if you want in or not and only ever use money you're prepared to lose and make it easy on yourself. A lot of people invest a small amount first, withdraw it when they've made more than the money back and play with what's left over for additional gains and spread (so you're not out of pocket and you're playing it safe). Or you can just stick a little spare cash into bitcoin or the top coins and sit it out hoping the market keeps going up. Please use your money responsibly...you work hard for it!