Our Current Recommendations
- Buy/Sell ETH and BTC (Canada): Shakepay (referral link)
- Software wallet: Exodus
- Hardware wallet: Trezor (hardware wallet, password manager, two-factor authenticator all-in-one device)
You may have heard about cryptocurrency or one of the first cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin. But what is it? Read on for a quick primer. Please note that as this is a deeply technical topic, some details have been simplified or glossed over in the following summary. Links will provide more in-depth and technical information if you are interested.
At their core, cryptocurrencies are based on a blockchain. A blockchain is described on Wikipedia as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”. To put it more simply, it is an open, public record of transactions that cannot be modified. For a currency, this is ideal, as transfers of funds become part of a public record and are not able to be changed later. Each block (or group of transactions) is added to the end of the chain.
Bitcoin became one of the first cryptocurrencies. For the blockchain to be effective, it must be distributed or copied to many different computers. This was accomplished by setting up the role of a miner. The miner is a computer that helps to build the chain, by attaching new transactions in a block at the end of the chain. Generating this information requires a significant amount of processing power, so miners are typically paid a small amount of currency for doing this work to maintain the chain. Different cryptocurrencies have different methods of calculating how miners get paid and how much to pay them. Further reading: How does Bitcoin mining work?
With estimates that there are over 1,000,000 Bitcoin miners, the above could mean that you have a one in a million chance of your computer (and this number is even higher if you have a slower computer) being the first to do the work and getting the reward for that block in the chain. Because of this, mining pools were created. If you’re interested in mining, you join the mining pool, and earnings are split amongst miners in the pool. Further reading: What is a mining pool?
To manage your cryptocurrency, you use a wallet. Wallets will each have an address (this allows people to send you currency) and can be online, software or hardware. The wallet address (also known as the public key) is safe to share with others as it will only let them send you currency, not remove currency. The private key allows the removal of currency, so it must be kept private. Many wallets also have a sequence of words (a passphrase) that will allow you to recover your private key if it is lost. These words must be treated as private as well, as it would allow anyone that knows them to gain full access to your wallet.
Bitcoin was the original cryptocurrency and is one of the most popular. It was designed just as a cryptocurrency. At the time of writing, one BTC is worth over $31,000 USD.
Ethereum is the second most popular cryptocurrency. It was designed to support smart contracts. Small bits of computer code can be written into the blockchain to perform automatic transfers of currency if conditions are met. This allows programs and contracts to be written publicly right into the blockchain and ensures that all parties hold up their end of the contract. At the time of writing, one ETH is worth over $1,000 USD.
How Can I Get Started?
One of the easiest ways to get started is just to invest in one of the cryptocurrencies. You can buy a fraction of a Bitcoin or Ethereum, so you don’t have to worry about coming up with $30,000 or $1,000! The easiest way to do this in Canada is through Shakepay (by using this link, you and I each get $5 cash after your first $100 investment). Shakepay has a great referral system and gives you small amounts of Bitcoin each day as well. It’s easy to transfer money in or out using Interac e-Transfers. They also allow you to transfer currency in or out to other wallets.
- Click on the Shakepay link and sign up. You will need to verify who you say you are. The verification process takes about a day but is very simple to do.
- Using e-Transfer, transfer any amount from your bank account into your Shakepay account. If you purchase $100 of BTC or ETH, you and I will both get a $5 reward from Shakepay.
- Purchase either BTC or ETH with your transferred money. Now you wait and hope the value goes up! Industry experts believe both these currencies are good investments at this time.
- OPTIONAL: Shakepay is an online wallet, moving your investment to a software or hardware wallet is recommended for better long-term security.
Through mining, you can get paid small amounts to allow use of your computer for maintenance of the blockchain. With Bitcoin being a very mature blockchain, you need a very powerful computer to make anything more than pennies. Specialized mining devices can be purchased that use electricity and earn you Bitcoin.
Nothing on this page is intended to be financial advice and is for information only. As with any investments, nothing is guaranteed and you should only invest what you can afford to lose. The owners of Outsmartin Technology Ltd have investments in both BTC and ETH and used Shakepay to purchase these investments. Any pecuniary interest is clearly detailed in the information above.