I’ve long-feared that I’d missed the opportunity to get involved with crypto. I couldn’t quite understand exactly what it was or how it worked. For many years I convinced myself it must surely be a scam dreamt up by people way cleverer than me.
Years have past and in spite of my inaction, I’ve maintained a passing interest in cryptocurrency while regretting daily that I didn’t own any.
While there have been numerous high profile booms and busts in the value of Bitcoin (the largest and best-known cryptocurrency), it seems apparent that it’s here to stay. When investing heavyweights like hedgefund manager Paul Tudor-Jones writes to his investors sharing his belief in Bitcoin as an investment vehicle it would seem silly to ignore him.
And so it was that by luck and coincidence that on January 2nd 2021, I decided to do what I could to make a small investment in Bitcoin.
Before I dive into how it went, I need to point out that this isn’t an in-depth, fully-researched piece describing everything you need to know about Bitcoin. Nor does it represent qualified financial advice. What I’m sharing is the process I went through to invest in Bitcoin from beginning to end.
If you’ve been procrastinating as I had, you may just find this gives you the impetus and information you need to get started. At the very least I want to debunk the myth that there are complicated and costly barriers to overcome if you want to get into Bitcoin. The rest of the considerations (like the psychology and strategy of investing) are up to you to make!
I’m a forty-something guy living in the UK who has witnessed many bubbles, booms and busts during his lifetime.
Some of these I’ve capitalised on — the dot-com boom paid the deposit on my first house. Others left me behind — the money that I wasted on consumer goods and needless toys could have secured me shares in Apple, Amazon or Facebook at a bargain price.
Until recently I put cryptocurrency into the category of bubbles that I’d also missed — opportunities that passed me by. I read of meteoric gains in value and envied those who’d had the courage and foresight to get involved. When the price crashed I felt smug for not wasting my time but still suspected deep down that I was missing the opportunity to buy in when prices were low again.
The other barrier to getting involved besides grit was the technical steps that I’d convinced myself were too great to overcome.
And so I procrastinated, delayed and tried to deny my own interest and the sense in my gut that if I didn’t get involved that in the years to come I’d regret my inaction even more.
On the first Saturday of 2021 for no real reason I finally decided to take the plunge.
I had £100 that had been given to me for Christmas and no desire to send it all to Amazon in exchange for yet another brown parcel full of things I didn’t need. Instead, I determined I’d buy my first Bitcoin.
Little did I know that-that same day would see the value of Bitcoin climb to its historic high, a rally that would return a 3% gain in one day. Nor did I realise it would continue to climb to $34,000.
My goal first and foremost was to find the quickest, simplest way of investing in Bitcoin in a risk-free way and with as little up-front expenditure as possible. I wanted all of my £100 to go towards Bitcoin rather than in fees or on specialist hardware.
When I say risk-free I’m mindful that risk is inherent in all investing, particularly with volatile investment vehicles like cryptocurrency. In this context I merely wanted to avoid scams or rogue-processes that might end up costing me more than I had to stake.
As to the risk that my initial investment and subsequent gains may lose value, well I’m prepared for that as a possible, if not a likely outcome.
My strategy for Bitcoin was that if I could figure out how it worked, I would drip in a small amount of money regularly to build up my investment in Bitcoin over the coming year. I want to have at least a little skin in the crypto currency game and to experience a small share of whatever gains and losses might be made in the future.
I’m a buy-and-hold investor risking a relatively small sum of money that won’t destroy my life or that of my family if I lose it all. I’ve no intention of day-trading or trying to predict fluctuations in price to make money off those. To that end, the majority of my modest investments remains in index-tracking managed funds and my pension. Neither of these will ever be replaced by or linked to cryptocurrency.
I started where all good research projects begin — on YouTube. I’d heard of Coinbase before as a reputable cryptocurrency exchange and so sought out a couple of tutorial videos on how Coinbase enables the purchase of Bitcoin, starting with this one.
I separated learning how to buy Bitcoin from the technical intricacies of what it is and how it works. For the purposes of this experiment I focused solely on turning my £100 into the equivalent value of Bitcoin. It’s my intention to learn more about the technical side of things later on.
It seems that to buy Bitcoin (or any widely-known cryptocurrency) you need the following:
1) An account with a (hopefully) reputable crypto intermediary — This enables you to deposit your funds (in my case £GBP) and to receive your Bitcoin once purchased.
2) Access to a Crypto-Exchange — this is essentially an interface to a marketplace where buyers meet sellers and vice-versa to deal in cryptocurrency, like any stock market or currency exchange. I’ve split this from Point 1 above for the purposes of describing the process I went through, but it’s really part and parcel of the same thing.
3) A Crypto-wallet — A secure place or device that is logically and physically separate to the Crypto-Exchange where you can hold your Bitcoin once you’ve bought it.
I’ve included links to the specifics of what I used below in case you want to follow the same approach. You are of course free to do your own research (and indeed I’d suggest you do so). I’m sure there are many alternatives to each of these that may be better in many respects.
I took the view that I’d not waste time at this point trying to save pennies in fees or look for other reasons to end up in analysis-paralysis. I simply wanted what was safest, most reputable and quick to set up and use.
To reiterate, the advice that I encounter regularly when reading anything to do with crypto and Bitcoin is to do your own research — so I heartily recommend that you do just that!
As mentioned above, I came to crypto investing having pre-selected Coinbase and a little further background research gave me reassurance and comfort — Coinbase was founded by (amongst others) a former Goldman Sachs trader in 2012. They are the leading Crypto-exchange in the USA too, by trading volume which gave me confidence that I’m among many other likeminded souls.
Given that my main concern was about security and the prospect of getting ripped-off it seemed like a smart move to go with the biggest player in much the same way that my first ever online book purchase was made via Amazon (back in 1998 as I recall — a tale that reminds me just how old I really am!)
Rhetoric that Coinbase’s fees are relatively high didn’t put me off — I ended up paying pennies to buy my £100 of Bitcoin via Coinbase end-to-end. I was also pleased that there seemed to be no significant minimum investment which I was relieved about — another potential barrier lifted.
The sign-up process took minutes and completed while waiting for my morning coffee to brew. This included scanning and uploading ID for age and address verification purposes which was all done securely, online and in minutes.
With the account set up and the app downloaded on my iPhone I was ready to add funds and make my investment.
Your funds for investment can be sent from a bank account electronically or you can fund your Coinbase account via a credit or debit card. In the tutorials I watched there was a suggestion that some banks and card providers don’t allow the funding of crypto accounts using their products. I assume this is a means of preventing some from getting in over their heads and maxing out their credit card in search of crypto riches?
In my case, an electronic bank transfer from my checking account to Coinbase was quick, easy and free. With the account set up and funds added I was ready for the next step.
Without any further steps required, a funded Coinbase account will allow you to buy your Bitcoin (or any other cryptocurrency). The interface is as simple as any well-designed online shop and most who have shopped online will be able to buy via Coinbase alone.
At the simplest level, you enter how much of your initial funds you want to invest at the current market price (which is fluctuating by the second). When you submit your request to deal, Coinbase will display the fees you’ll incur which are of the order of a few pennies for a £100 trade.
The tutorials I watched pointed to Coinbase Pro as a more involved and intricate Coinbase experience which links seamlessly, and uses the same credentials as Coinbase. Through the use of Coinbase Pro, fees can be reduced and curious souls like myself are able to be a bit more ‘hands-on’ with how they execute their trades.
While I’m not an expert trader I was drawn to this as I have in the past dabbled (very unsuccessfully) with spread-betting on foreign exchange currency pairs. While the venture was a dead-loss of the money I staked, I learned a lot at the time about trading charts, submitting sell and buy orders and so-on.
I decided to investigate it, and ultimately downloaded Coinbase Pro and used it to complete my Bitcoin trade. If you’re looking to make your first trade without such a step then you probably don’t need to follow the remainder of this step and can just execute your trade via the non-pro version of Coinbase!
In my case, I funded Coinbase Pro by transferring my £100 into it from Coinbase (which is again fee-free).
I wanted to use a limit order to buy my Bitcoin which means I specified the price I was willing to pay rather than proceeding direct to buy at the prevailing market price. This reduced the fees slightly. It also made me feel like less of a rookie and inflated my ego a little!
I set a price of a few dollars beneath the market price at that moment and submitted my order. A couple of seconds after submitting my order it was fulfilled and I was the proud owner of a little over four thousandths of a Bitcoin!
The story could end here since I now owned the Bitcoin.
Recommended best practice however is that investors are unwise to leave their Bitcoin to reside on the Crypto Exchange. Instead, it’s advised that the coins (essentially a unique and encrypted code that constitutes the coin) are moved or downloaded and stored securely on a Crypto Wallet.
The rationale is that hackers are more likely to target exchanges rather than individuals’ wallets, hence there’s no sense in leaving your coins in the exchange account to potentially be lost. There is also a reliance on the exchange organisation remaining in business — if coins were left on the exchange and they went bust, then I guess it would be a nightmare to retrieve ones investment.
Crypto wallets are the answer to this.
They are software or hardware-based devices, designed to be ultra-secure and independent of the exchanges themselves. Many remain offline and unconnected to the Internet except when the owners are accessing them to trade or spend their coins, or want to add more to their wallet.
I did a little more research, and in-line with my ‘zero-spend’ principle opted for a software app-based wallet rather than buying a hardware wallet (think along the lines of a removable hard-drive or USB Memory Key). For simplicity I used the Coinbase Wallet App.
I’ve done more research since, and I’ll likely purchase a hardware wallet like the Trezor One, many of which are priced at less than $100. A hardware wallet gives the coin owner ultimate control and ownership of the private key which remains online in a software wallet.
By storing your Bitcoins in a secure, encrypted wallet the already secure and encrypted coins themselves are placed under further protection. You’d keep an eye on your wallet if you’d just filled it with cash, so why not treat your cryptocurrency with similar care?
It seems to make sense in a world where we’re opting out of the banking system providing that protection on our behalf that we would want to ensure we provide our own protection, right?
The follow-on from this would then presumably be “How and where do you then store and protect the wallet?”
Mine is accessed via a highly-secure app on my iPhone and as and when I get a hardware wallet I suspect I’ll want to keep that in a safe or strongbox. When I have enough Bitcoin on it to warrant such security measures then I’ll gladly consider the matter further as it will signify something worth protecting!
For now, the Coinbase Wallet links seamlessly to the Coinbase Exchange and utilises multiple layers of security. After purchasing my coins on Coinbase Pro I moved them for free onto Coinbase and from there onto my wallet for just a few pennies of ‘miners fees’ (I’m still to research the concept of Bitcoin mining and the relevance of the network to the currency at which point I’ll understand what this means!)
Following less than an hour of cumulative effort (including watching the tutorials on YouTube) and less than £1 expenditure on fees, I’d achieved my intended goal and converted my £100 into Bitcoin which are now securely stored safely in my online wallet.
On the day I invested, Bitcoin closed at a price reflecting a 3% return on my investment. They’ve since increased further in value.
I’m not so deluded as to think that the price won’t drop once again — as an investment vehicle Bitcoin is clearly extremely volatile which is why so many are drawn to the potential for life-changing gains and why many more have no-doubt lost more than they could afford while chasing such riches.
In 2017 it reached a value of nearly $20,000 before plummeting to a little over $3,000. Much of this volatility may be a side effect of its maturation as a recognised and accepted store of value, or there may be worse to come.
Either way, it’s my intention to continue to drip-feed a little money into my Bitcoin investment regularly over time, to build up my share of the Bitcoin pie.
It would be nice to think that in time and with education and experience I might be able to predict fluctuations so that I’m not always buying at the top price. My goal remains to buy and hold Bitcoin (and potentially other of the bigger coins such as Ethereum) for the long-term.
Fear of missing out was what finally pushed me to figure out how to make my first cryptocurrency investment — a fear that in 20-years’ time one Bitcoin will be worth $100,000 and I’ll be lamenting that I didn’t take the plunge and make at least a small investment when it was beneath $30,000.
Five years ago I might have also had the excuse that the cost and technical-mechanics of investing in Bitcoin were prohibitive for a small-time investor like me. Now it seems like those barriers have definitely lifted.
There are undoubtedly many other ways of making an investment other than via Coinbase too — I mention it only to demonstrate that with a little time and a bit of experimentation, anything is possible!
Sometimes the best way to overcome FOMO, or indeed any fear is to take action and to see what’s possible.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.
PARSIQ Integrated Into Polkadot For Smart Triggers Across the Relay Chain
[PRESS RELEASE – Tallinn, Estonia, 11th May 2021]
PARSIQ, a platform that monitors data and automation across blockchains, bridging both on and off-chain apps and sending out user alerts once transactions are executed, now offers compatibility for smart triggers with the Polkadot Relay Chain.
A smart trigger is effectively a smart contract that is deployed into the PARSIQ ecosystem. It allows triggers from external chains to be passed to off-chain systems. It collects data across a variety of chains in real-time and then constructs an indexed composition of actions in any one chain in the process of reverse-engineering. It can validate and process a huge amount of real-time data simultaneously via its distributed data management layer by utilizing chain-specific feature extraction.
Building a Bridge
PARSIQ shares the same ideology as Polkadot, which is to bridge data across a huge network of chains, leaving all chains completely equal to one another, where each chain has its own personal real-world uses and strengths. This is a model which builds strength from numbers and enhances usability by combining the entire group of chains into one strong network.
PARSIQ, rather than being a chain itself, is the bridge between the chains and between off-chain applications too. Developers can build their own smart triggers using PARSIQ. These smart triggers react to events, plus they are able to store and alter data and also to learn from the data as they grow.
The platform, in addition to monitoring data and creating alerts, can also be used to deploy bots, as well as for areas like monitoring AML, performing automated accounting, and more. Each developer’s data stream is completely unique with its own branding retaining as well as its pricing structure, even while it is growing and learning from the entire network.
PARSIQ is now integrated across all of the major blockchains, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Solana, Celo, Dash, and Algorand, to give users a way to simplify the automation of all their processes and applications off-chain, on-chain, and even across Layer-2 chains.
PARSIQ’s smart triggers have far-reaching functionality, including monitoring transactions, assets are withdrawn from a user, sent to other users, transfers exceeding a pre-set level, and many more. Developers can use the PARSIQ platform to build their own smart triggers for data workflow automation, storage, and learning here:
Examples of workflows include:
Alerts of DOT transactions as they happen
Bridging events in the Polkadot Relay Chain (as well as other chains) with a simple user interface
Monitor data flow and create advanced analytics from the data
Alerting to strong potential trades
Usage for traders, platforms, and market researchers to build strong, data-backed pictures of the markets.
Created by one of Ethereum’s founders, Dr. Gavin Wood Polkadot’s goal is to take blockchains to a state closer to Web3, where all on-chain activity is shared across a variety of chains. It is an intersection capable of translating architecture into one heterogeneous language for customizing side chains to connect with public blockchains.
Raze Network Kicks Off Testnet Phase With UI Community Voting
[PRESS RELEASE – Singapore, Singapore, 11th May 2021]
Raze Network, the first Polkadot-based privacy protocol, is bracing to engage community members with our first testnet. Early birds will be able to provide feedback on the quality, function, and overall experience of the Polkadot-based privacy protocol.
This huge milestone clears the way for ‘Razers’ and collaborators to easily test drive the newest features and allows plenty of maturation time for these new features to be fully tested.
Our team already started designing the user interface of the privacy protocol we promised to launch. However, we want to resort to the collective wisdom of our community on how to actually bring this to realization, thus launching this UI Community Voting Campaign.
The beta testnet marks the latest step forward in Raze Network’s overall mission to enable the broader community to contribute to the evolution of our trustless decentralized privacy protocol.
Raze Network’s applications present the decentralized finance (DeFi) community with a cross-chain middleware solution on Polkadot for concealing transactions when operating on decentralized exchanges.
With a clear vision and solid use-case, the protocol-based solution leverages the Polkadot ecosystem to offer the required privacy layer for the crypto sphere. The privateness protocol aims to guard anonymity for all the DeFi stack on the Polkadot.
To achieve higher participation during the testnet, Raze Network is organizing a number of events, competitions, and challenges to encourage participants to actively test critical components of our ecosystem. Specifically, we will airdrop 1,000 $RAZE tokens to 10 lucky voters based on how many entries they generated to vote for the best UI style.
$RAZE is set to be the lifeblood of the Raze Network, designed as a utility token to represent participation in the ecosystem.
The launch of Raze Network’s UI testnet comes on the heels of several other recent milestones, including a robust set of developer resources and partnerships that continues to expand.
Just in April, we announced the strategic listing of Raze token on the popular DeFi platform, Uniswap. This listing closely follows our completed triple IDO event on three launchpads.
Interestingly, apart from going live on DEX exchanges, $RAZE tokens will also soon be listed on several tier-1 centralized exchanges.
This networked testnet release allows Raze to continue working with our partners towards the mass adoption of decentralized applications and smart contracts.
Since its inception, Raze Network sought to develop an infrastructure that is easy to understand and smooth to navigate. One where even new users can reap the benefits of a cross-chain middleware solution for anonymous transactions, payments trading, and mining.
Although the token launch is done, the real work starts. Most recently, we have completed the development of mint, transfer, and redeem contracts in Solidity. Currently, we are testing how to deploy these contracts on EVM.
Also, the major front-end and client modules that can invoke the aforementioned contracts have been developed.
About Raze Network
Raze Network is a Substrate-based cross-chain privacy protocol for the Polkadot ecosystem. It is built as a native privacy layer that can provide end-to-end anonymity for the entire DeFi stack. The Raze Network applies zk-SNARKs to the Zether framework to build a second-layer decentralized anonymous module.
It will then be imported as a Substrate-based smart contract. The objective of Raze Network is to enable cross-chain privacy-preserving payment and trading systems while protecting the transparency of your assets and behaviors from surveillance.
First Spot: Coinbase’s App Surpassed TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook on iOS in the US
Coinbase’s mobile application has become the most popular app on iOS in the US. With its rise to the top, it has surpassed some highly utilized applications like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and more.
Coinbase Tops US iOS Chart
According to data from SensorTower, the mobile application of the largest US crypto exchange has taken the first spot in terms of the most popular free apps on iOS in the country.
The app enabling users to buy, sell, or simply hold various digital assets has climbed with several spots in the past few weeks.
As of writing these lines, TikTok – the Chinese video-sharing social networking giant that saw the light of day in 2016 takes the second spot.
Further down the list is YouTube, followed by other social media giants like Instagram and Facebook. Interestingly, Robinhood’s app is not even in the top ten. The iOS application of the financial services company takes the 12th spot.
It’s worth noting that the top 50 free iOS applications have two Coinbase representatives. The exchanges’ wallet app is the 46th most popular application, which places it ahead of Uber, Google Drive, and Microsoft Teams.
Taking the aforementioned first spot only validates Coinbase’s popularity boost in the past year or so. The company took full advantage of the ongoing crypto bull market, which has seen prices exploding.
These impressive results came shortly before Coinbase became a publicly traded company. As CryptoPotato reported in mid-April, the firm’s shares (COIN) launched on the giant US exchange – Nasdaq.
Although some of the early backers sold off their stocks and prices suffered in the month that followed, Coinbase only intensified its aggressive expansion. In the latest endeavor, the firm agreed to acquire Skew – the popular crypto analytics company.
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