What the hell is Bitcoin, and how do you get started?
It’s all the rage. Everyone is talking about it as it recently hit a high of £15k in value, and as I write this, it’s sitting at a low of £7038.50 – making this the perfect time to jump on.
But what is it? How do you get started? What do you need to know?
Before you read any further you don’t need to buy a full bitcoin.
Compared to 4 or 5 years ago when I first became interested in Bitcoin (and when it was dirt cheap), its very easy to get your hands on some, and will only take you a maximum of about 15 mins.
At the moment, I personally own 0.001182 BTC, which is worth £9.43, however I have owned as much as 0.3 BTC recently, and thankfully sold it for quite a bit of profit when it was at an all time high before Christmas. I have held on to various amounts of other coins like XRP (Ripple), LTC (Litecoin), and Pirl.
Do not rush into buying Bitcoin; it’s easy to buy, but just make sure you know what you’re investing in as it’s extremely volatile and your capital will be at risk. I don’t want any students losing £1000 because I told you to buy some bitcoin.
If you want more info about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, straight from the horse’s mouth, click here.
What is Bitcoin?
(Skip on down to the tutorial if you already know this stuff)
Here’s a nifty video to give you the low down.
So, cryptocurrencies (not just bitcoin), represent the future in paying for something. Rather than something being £1, it could in turn be 0.00013 BTC, which is the equivalent.
However Bitcoin and all the others are much more than just currencies, they are also the entire network (see Blockhain), that securely allows this entire of sending money (BTC) from person to person (or wallet to wallet, which is the encrypted “place” you store your Bitcoin). Bitcoin poses some challenges however; it’s slow, it can’t handle a lot of transactions per second, it’s unregulated, and it has a limited supply of 21 million bitcoins.
A few other things to note:
- Secure – Bitcoin is very secure, transactions are encrypted within a Blockchain, making them impossible to hack.
- Decentralised – There’s no main body, like a bank, in control of Bitcoin, which means it can’t be taken down, manipulated in any way etc.
- Private – No one holds or receives any data about you. You are relatively anonymous when you use Bitcoin.
There’s loads more about Bitcoin, just do a little bit more reading if you don’t feel ready to get involved. You don’t need to know everything. There’s so much to know, just make sure you’re certain you want to spend some money.
Do not invest any more than you’d be willing to lose! I have made a lot of profit off a little bit of money. Be smart. Use your own judgement.
However, I’m fairly confident that in 2018 Bitcoin will grow massively. Don’t be left out!
Enough of that. How can you buy Bitcoin?
This is the exact process I took the first time I bought Bitcoin. It’s the simplest, easiest, and safest way to buy.
This will method minimises risk massively, and is the best way to go if you are new to it.
Here’s 5 things you’ll need to get started.
- Bitcoin address – A unique (to you) random string of numbers where your bitcoin can be received.
- Bitcoin wallet – An encrypted place where your Bitcoin is stored (a bit like a bank account).
- Crypto exchange – A website where you can “buy” bitcoin with normal GBP (like a bureau de change).
- Payment method – A debit or credit.
- Form of identity – Passport or driving license.
Step 1. Create an account on Coinbase.
Create a coinbase account. Here you’ll be able to both buy bitcoin, and store it in a wallet you can use to send or receive bitcoin as you please.
Click here for a promo page inviting you to join.
With this link you can receive a bonus $10 free Bitcoin if you buy or sell over $100/£74 (you don’t have to buy that much though, and I’ll never know!). Once you’re on Coinbase you can invite your friends in the same way, but it’s a win/win for us both!
Complete this form and sign up!
Step 2. Verify your email
Verify your email address by clicking the link in the email they will have just sent you. (Check your junk folder if you haven’t received it yet.)
Step 3. Add your phone for security
In order to have maximum security, they’ll ask you to add your phone. Don’t worry, I have done it and it’s perfectly safe; in fact it keeps your bitcoin even safer. This is called 2-factor authentication, and you may have to deal with it in other areas of your life already. It protects your account as no one will be able to access your account without your phone and your password (bear this in mind if you’re getting a new phone number).
You’ll receive an SMS from Coinbase with a code, enter it into the box and your account will be created and secure.
Step 4. Verify yourself
Before you can go ahead and enter into the crypto world, Coinbase will ask you to verify your identity with either a passport or driving license.
It’s fairly straightforward. Scroll down and click ‘Verify your identity’. Select and ID type, and use either your webcam or mobile to take a photo. It shouldn’t take long.
Step 5. Add payment method
Fairly straightforward again with this one. Scroll down your dashboard and click on ‘Add a payment method’. The easiest thing to do is use a debit or credit card, especially when you’re starting out – there will be a small fee however, but it’s not much and worth it to get started quickly.
You can also use bank transfer, however there is a higher fee especially to set up your first one. If you do want to sell your bitcoin and withdraw the money in the future, you will need to use this method.
NOW BUY SOME BITCOIN!
Click ‘Buy/Sell’ at the top. Make sure ‘Buy’ is now selected and also ‘Bitcoin’ below that. Select your payment method, and then enter the amount in GBP that you would like to buy. You can buy as much or as little as you want (you need to buy at least £5 though). If you want the signup bonus straight off the bat, you’ll need to spend £74 – however you can work up to this, it doesn’t need to happen all at once. Click “Buy Bitcoin Instantly”, and that’s it! Bitcoin will be added to your wallet.
You are now the proud owner of Bitcoin!
Wait! How can I send or receive Bitcoin?
Sending and receiving Bitcoin is all easily done via your coinbase wallet.
To receive Bitcoin from someone else, they just need your unique Bitcoin address. You can find yours by clicking the “Receive” button, copy and paste the address to whoever is sending you bitcoin. There is also a QR format that’s very convenient on mobiles.
To send Bitcoin, there are a couple more steps:
- Click the “Send” button
- Enter the BTC address of the receiving person or wallet
- Enter the BTC amount (to be sent from your wallet)
- Write a message (essentially a reference)
- Click “Continue” to confirm the transaction
If you wanted to send your Bitcoin to another exchange like ‘Bittrex’ (this is where you can trade your bitcoin for other coins like XRP (Ripple) or SC (Siacoin)) this is what you would do. The address you’re sending to would be your ‘receive’ address on Bittrex.
If you’re interested in learning more about buying or selling Cryptocurrency – leave a comment below and let me know what else you’d like to know!