Investing in the cryptocurrency market space can be a bit daunting for traditional investors, as investing in direct cryptocurrencies (CC) requires using new tools and adopting some new concepts. So if you decide to dip your toes into this market, you need to have a very good idea of what to do and what to expect.
Buying and selling CC requires you to choose an exchange that deals in the commodities you want to buy and sell, be they Bitcoin, Litecoin, or any of over 1300 other tokens. In previous editions we have briefly described the products and services available on a few exchanges, to give you an idea of the various offerings. There are many exchanges to choose from and they all work in their own way. Look for things that are important to you, for example:
– Deposit policies, procedures, and costs for each procedure
– Withdrawal policy and costs
– They deal in any fiat currency for deposits and withdrawals
– The commodities they trade in, such as crypto coins, gold, silver, etc
– Transaction costs
– Where is this exchange based? (USA / UK / South Korea / Japan …)
Be prepared for the exchange setup process to be detailed and long, as exchanges usually want to know a lot about you. This is analogous to setting up a new bank account, because exchanges are brokers of value, and they want to be sure that you are who you say you are, and that you are a trustworthy person to deal with. It seems that “trust” is gained over time, as exchanges usually allow small investment amounts to start.
Your exchange will keep your CC in storage for you. Many offer “cold storage” which simply means your coins will be kept “offline” until you indicate you want to do something with them. There have been several reports of exchanges being hacked and many coins being stolen. Think of your coins as being in something like a bank account on an exchange, but remember that your coins are only digital, and all blockchain transactions are irreversible. Unlike your bank, this exchange does not have deposit insurance, so be aware that hackers are always trying to get hold of and steal your crypto coins. Exchanges typically offer password protected accounts and many offer 2-factor authentication schemes – something to seriously consider to protect your account from hackers.
Given that hackers like to prey on exchanges and your account, we always recommend that you use a digital wallet for your coins. Moving coins between your exchange account and your wallet is relatively easy. Be sure to choose a wallet that handles all the coins you want to buy and sell. Your wallet is the device you use to “spend” your coins with merchants who accept CC for payment. The two types of wallets are “hot” and “cold”. Hot wallets are very easy to use but they leave your coins exposed to the internet, but only on your computer, not the exchange servers. Cold wallets use offline storage media, such as special hardware memory sticks and simple hard copy printouts. Using cold wallets makes transactions more complicated, but they are the most secure
Your wallet contains “private” keys that authorize all transactions you wish to initiate You have a “public” key that is shared across the network so that all users can identify your account when engaging in transactions with you. When hackers get your private key, they can move your coins wherever they want and it’s irreversible.
Despite all the challenges and wild volatility, we are confident that the underlying blockchain technology is a game changer, and will revolutionize how transactions are conducted going forward.