It is never too late to learn.
It can be very dangerous to see things from somebody else’s point of view without the proper training.
Marvin says, "If you have some money saved and you are prepared to take the risk of losing some of it then go ahead and buy some Bitcoin or Ethereum today. Their prices may drop tomorrow but if viewed as long term investments both BTC and ETH will probably reward you. But before you start experimenting with more adventurous trades, please study the STRATEGY and HAZARDS pages of this web site."
The most convenient “on ramp” for purchasing cryptocurrency depends upon the country and jurisdiction in which you are resident. This Guide focusses on services relevant to Arthur Dent’s country of origin, the UK.
Even if you haven't yet downloaded and installed your own cryptocurrency wallet (or perhaps you don't trust yourself to protect your private key) one of the quickest and safest ways to invest in cryptocurrency today is to download the SwissBorg app because their wealth app is arguably one of the best fiat on ramps in the crypto space. SwissBorg is available throughout Europe. It is easy to use and offers some unique features including their proprietary Smart Engine enabling you to earn interest from their yield wallets. Click our picture of a Bitcoin ATM for an invitation to join Swissborg where deposits, exchanges and withdrawals are fast, and if you use their yield wallets you can earn at a competitive interest rate.
Offering a slightly wider choice of cryptocurrencies than SwissBorg within their exchange is Nexo. An advantage of Nexo is the option of using your cryptocurrency balance as collateral against a GBP loan. Deposits and withdrawals with Nexo tend to be somewhat slower than with SwissBorg.
Picking the best crypto exchange can be a complicated process. First and foremost, you’ll want a secure exchange. As crypto has grown more popular and desirable, it’s become an increasingly large target for hackers, and many leading exchanges, including Binance’s international operation and KuCoin, have been hacked to the tune of tens of millions. While exchanges often reimburse those whose coins are stolen through their insurance, you probably don’t want to be in that position to begin with. That’s why it’s important you only invest your money on reputable exchanges.
If you're interested in investing in Elrond (EGLD) you should install Maiar, a digital wallet and global payments app that allows you to exchange and securely store your crypto on your mobile phone.
In September 2020, Gemini, a US-based cryptocurrency exchange and custodian, received FCA regulatory approval to offer its services to institutional investors in the UK.
So that you don't feel left out by this section of the Guide if you're not in Europe we suggest you look at Kraken or you may find that Bittrex Global or Kucoin can offer a wider selection of coins not available elsewhere.
The largest cryptocurrency exchange is Binance and it offers a wider range of coins than most others. A good feature in Binance is that if you have small amounts coin left over after an exchange, then you can periodically sweep up this "dust" into BNB. But when you wish to withdraw from Binance to your own wallet they will charge you a fee whereas from many other exchanges withdrawals are free. We warn you to use Binance exchange for trading only at spot market price and to not be tempted to try to beat this casino by leverage trading. Binance is currently being investigated by regulators, and some UK banks will refuse to execute GBP transfers to and from Binance.
One of the most widely known and popular exchanges in many countries is Coinbase but their fees tend to be high, transaction and withdrawal times tend to be slower than with other services suggested above and their customer support receives poor reviews so we can't recommend it to our UK followers.
Don't be an annoying newcomer in a cryptocurrency chat room by asking dumb questions like, “Where can I buy this?” One of the first things you must learn is how to use the CoinGecko website where you can search for any coin using its name or its ticker code to take you to a page that gives you details about that coin’s status in the market, the URL of the project team’s website, and lists the online exchanges where it can be traded and what trading pairs for that coin are supported on each exchange.
Be aware that there are many different blockchain networks. You can't send ETH to a Bitcoin network address. You can't send BTC to an Ethereum network address. You can't send DCR to Monero network address. You can't send XMR to a Polkadot network address. If you attempt to send cryptocurrency to an incorrect address or to a valid receive-address that is on the wrong network you will almost certainly lose it irrecoverably.
This may sound straighforward but it can be confusing because, for example, the BNB token is available both on the Ethereum network and on the Binance Smart Chain network, but you can't send BNB directly from an Ethereum network address to a Binance Smart Chain network address. So be careful! For a credit to be moved from one ledger to another it has to pass through a combination of smart-contracts on both blockchains via a special application that is called a bridge.
Before moving ERC20 tokens from one wallet to another on the Ethereum network or initiating a trade on the Ethereum network using, for example, the Uniswap decentralised exchange (DEX), it is advisable to check the current Gas Price (Gwei) and make sure you will have enough ETH in your wallet to cover the transaction fee. The Gas Price of each transaction varies depending upon how congested the Ethereum network is and it can sometimes be worth waiting for a quieter time.
Most newcomers to cryptocurrency will begin by buying some Bitcoin (BTC). BTC is the best known and the lowest risk. Don't worry about one single Bitcoin being valued at many thousands of pounds. Bitcoins can be split into smaller units to ease and facilitate smaller transactions so you can buy fractions of a Bitcoin. A satoshi is the smallest unit of a bitcoin, equivalent to 100 millionth of a bitcoin.
Marvin says, "Any newcomer to cryptocurrency should watch this video where bitcoin and cryptocurrency is beautifully explained in 10 minutes. Technologist and blockchain expert Andreas Antonopoulos talks about how Bitcoin will break the banks and change the world at its core. This is a keynote speech from Internetdagarna 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden."
Before you accumulate a lot of cryptocurrency you should get a wallet in which you can safely store what you've bought because it isn't wise to leave more than you can afford to lose on an exchange.
There are many different wallets to choose from but possibly the easiest way to get started is to download and install the Exodus wallet that Marvin recommends to beginners because:
1. Exodus is available on a choice of operating system platforms including Windows (Microsoft), Android (Google) and IOS (Apple).
2. Exodus has a user friendly interface that is simple and easy to use.
3. Exodus can hold many of the most popular coins and tokens in a single wallet, including BTC, ETH, XMR, DASH, ATOM, EGLD, DCR, DOT, XTZ, SNX, LTC, LINK, ENJ, ZIL, etc, etc.
4. Good technical support is available from the Exodus team.
5. The built-in exchange facility using decentralised exchanges means that you do not need to register with an online exchange or learn to use any online trading platform (unless you wish to obtain coins not supported by Exodus)
6. Exodus integrates with the Trezor hardware wallet for the added security of keeping your private keys offline.
If you already own a Trezor hardware wallet you may also wish to use Trezor Suite as your user interface to your wallet. You may choose to use both the Exodus and Trezor Suite user interfaces because Exodus recognises a number of coins that Trezor Suite does not while Trezor Suite recognises all ERC20 tokens, some of which Exodus does not recognise.
Many recently introduced cryptocurrencies are not yet supported by Exodus. For storage of the latest ERC20 compatible tokens Marvin recommends you install the MetaMask extension to your web browser. An advantage of installing MetaMask is that it will enable you to use of the Uniswap decentralised exchange and the OpenSea marketplace for NFTs.
When you first install and activate your wallet you will be invited to write down a list of keywords that can be used to re-generate your wallet in the event of failure or loss of your device. Never store this list of keywords electronically on your device as access to this information by a hacker would give the hacker the ability to control your wallet. This list of 12 or 24 keywords is sometimes called your private key mnemonic or may be called your recovery phrase or your list of seed words.
It is important you understand that your wallet never actually contains cryptocurrency. It holds the private cryptographic key that permits its owner to move crytocurrency from one address to another on the blockchain, and it provides you with a user interface to facilitate such moves. Your cryptocurrency is a record in a decentralized ledger maintained by the blockchain.
So if somebody else obtains your recovery phrase they can re-generate your credentials using either the same or different wallet software on another device and steal your cryptocurrency by signing a transaction to send it to a different address in the ledger. This is because the same BIP39 mnemonic words standard is employed by most wallet applications.
For your own safety please obey Zaphod's Ten Commandments.
If you chose to use an online cryptocurrency exchange to buy a coin that was not obtainable via your chosen fiat “on ramp” or through the DEX facility built in to your wallet then never leave any significant value in the exchange's wallet. Exchanges can be and have been hacked. After you have finished trading always withdraw most of your coins to an appropriate wallet on your own device for which you have control of the private key. An often heard phrase is, “Not your keys, not your crypto.” Trusting your coins to the custodianship of a centralised exchange or financial institution will defeat one of the main objectives of the bitcoin vision.
When learning about cryptocurrency and you encounter some, jargon, terminology or acronym that you don't understand then click the button below to visit a helpful A - Z glossary of cryptocurrency terminology.