We’re entering the golden age of crypto. What used to be a niche interest for techies has transformed into a global phenomenon. By some estimates, there are now 300 million crypto users worldwide holding cryptocurrencies as investment assets, trading crypto online, and using this technology in day-to-day transactions.
The world of cryptocurrency can be daunting for a beginner. It has an entire language of its own, with tons of jargon, slang and newly invented phrases that might baffle the uninitiated. The seemingly endless array of cryptocurrencies to choose from—10,000 and counting—can also be overwhelming.
If you’re looking to get your feet wet with crypto, here’s a rundown of the basics as well as some tips for how to get started.
Coins Versus Tokens
Broadly speaking, there are two basic categories of cryptocurrency: coins and tokens. It can get confusing because you’ll often hear tokens referred to as “coins,” but these describe two different things.
A crypto coin has its own blockchain and it’s meant to function just like a real-life coin, which is to say it is a medium of exchange. The value of a coin is determined on the market by supply—i.e. the number of “mined” coins in circulation—and demand.
Tokens operate on the blockchain of another coin and can be used for a range of specialized purposes. Like coins, they can be used to transfer value but they also can serve other functions.
For example, utility tokens are issued by a company for use obtaining that company’s services, like a token at an arcade. There are also non-fungible tokens that are tied to a unique asset. These are an increasingly popular way to commercialize digital art.
Stablecoins are another kind of token, and they have a fixed value that’s usually pegged to that of a traditional currency to provide a bridge between fiat and crypto.
You can’t just go to any old bank or investment firm to buy cryptocurrency. To do so, you have to register an account on an exchange. These online marketplaces allow you to buy, sell and trade digital currency.
Crypto trading is where most of the action is these days. It’s just like conventional currency trading where investors attempt to buy low and sell high to cash in on fluctuations in the crypto market.
With the crypto boom, the number of exchanges has multiplied rapidly, so there are lots to choose from, including some created by established financial service platforms. They offer different rates and conditions, so be sure to shop around.
How to Start Using and Trading Crypto
Getting started with crypto is easy. There are just a few simple steps. In addition to signing up for an exchange, you’ll want to get a crypto wallet. This is an app that can be used to store and access your coins, tokens and other crypto assets on demand.
There are also a number of services designed to be accessible and easy to use for crypto novices that you might want to consider trying out. One exciting new development on that front comes from Hi, a Singapore-based not-for-profit company helmed by former Bitcoin.com CEO Stefan Rüst and form Crypto.com Sean Rach.
hi has a novel approach that allows users to access its services without downloading any specialized apps. It lets users buy, sell, trade, hold and convert crypto through existing mobile platforms like Telegram and WhatsApp, with plans to expand into others like Facebook Messenger and Live in the near future.
What’s more, hi offers users a chance to earn daily rewards in the form of hi Dollars, a token built on the Ethereum blockchain, that they can accumulate with no money down. This is a risk-free way for new crypto users to build up their digital assets while getting in on the ground floor of a rapidly growing cryptocurrency venture whose member base skyrocketed from zero to 1 million users in its first 100 days.
Cryptocurrency can be truly mind-boggling for those who aren’t exactly tech savvy, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking part in this technological revolution that’s upending and disrupting traditional finance. New innovations and platforms are lowering barriers to entry and bringing crypto closer to fulfilling its original vision of a democratized, decentralized currency for all people.