Bitcoin and Crypto Resources For Beginners

I was first introduced to Bitcoin by Vaishali when it was around $30 per BTC. Like most people, I brushed it off as another open source project trying to solve digital payments that was likely to fail. When BTC reached $100 a few months later, I thought maybe it was time to learn about Bitcoin and blockchain . Unfortunately, in 2013, it was very difficult to find people who knew about Bitcoin and online resources were just as difficult to find.

In 2017, it seems the problem of finding the right resources isn’t much easier. Even though, there are many people writing about Bitcoin and crypto, it is still hard for beginners to figure out which resources they can trust and which they can’t. I had tons of questions when I was digging in: “What is Bitcoin?”, “What is Bitcoin backed by?”, “How do I buy Bitcoin?”, “Why would anyone run a full node?”

This isn’t an attempt to answer all of those questions but instead meant to share some resources that I have accumulated and think are useful for people beginning their crypto journey. Teach a man to fish and all that…

This isn’t investment advice and it should not be taken as such. It is purely shared as a resource to learn from.

White Papers

  1. Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System – this is the quintessential starting point for anyone interested in crypto currencies, crypto assets, and, of course, Bitcoin. Nine pages that have changed technology and economics, forever.
  2. Ethereum White Paper – This is far more technical but worth reading. The Ethereum blockchain has allowed the creation of hundreds of tokens to piggyback off the Ethereum network and completely changed how blockchain technology is looked it.

Books

This book can get a bit technical but you’re diving into crypto currencies, you will need to start understanding the basic technology behind it. This one is on my reading list. I’ve been following Chris Burniske on Twitter and he’s got some really brilliant things to say. I’m sure the book is just as informative.

Podcasts & Videos

Andreas’ videos are a must watch to get started

Charlie Lee discusses “Creating Litecoin”

Blogs

Buying Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin or other Altcoins (alternate coins)

Depending on where you live, buying Bitcoin can be extremely easy, or quite difficult or expensive. Most people will use a marketplace or an exchange to purchase Bitcoin. However, other methods like buying it from from a friend or using a service like LocalBitcoins is also possible. The folks at CoinCentral put together a review of various exchanges and buying methods including LocalBitcoins.

If you’re in the US, the largest and easiest way to buy Bitcoin, Ether or Litecoin is currently Coinbase (disclaimer: I may get paid $10 if you open an account and buy some coins).

If you’re in India, some of the more commonly used online exchanges are Koinex, Coinome, Zebpay, Coinsecure, and Unocoin amongst others.

Most experts in the crypto currency world agree that it is not safe to leave your crypto assets on an exchange. Though there hasn’t been a case of the blockchain ever being hacked, businesses, websites, and tools are susceptible to hacking just like Equifax, Home Depot, Yahoo!, etc. For that reason, experts recommend moving any amount of crypto currency that you’re not comfortable losing, over to your own wallet where you control the private keys (sorry, I didn’t discuss private keys but the resources above do – it’s critical to understand them and keep them safe).

Wallets

One of the most challenging things for me to figure out was which wallet should I use. I wanted a solid product that had the support of the community and was also safe and secure. I also wanted a wallet that could support multiple currencies. I tried a couple of multi currency wallets but eventually decided on separate wallets for each currency.

Bitcoin

I highly recommend checking the Bitcoin.org site to choose the wallet best for you. I chose to run a Bitcoin Core Full Node and use that as my wallet but that may not be for everyone.

Ether

The Ethereum Foundation, generally, recommends using the Mist wallet as the initially launch point. Now that it supports a light client, it is also pretty fast to sync with the network. If you’re interested in just playing around, you can also try MyEtherWallet which is an amazing web-based Ether and token wallet (yup, I’m leaving out the discussion on tokens in this post).

Installing and setting up a wallet is free (unless you’re using a paid app). Sending Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin or any crypto currency to another address, will cost some currency. I highly encourage downloading and setting up a wallet and creating your first wallet address, if for no other reason than to learn.

If you want to try out a transaction, feel free to send some​

BTC to 33EBeMRethPPT6ckXEEbAPWuno6pieivcP ETH to 0x1bE8c8660eE07a49B3CD88398B13631a67514Cd5
 

Please make sure to send the right coin to the right address. If you send it to the wrong address, it will be gone forever.

  • Please write down your passphrase and passwords on a piece of paper that is secure and won’t get lost, damaged, stolen, etc.
  • Do not use a password that you’ve used for any other purpose, on any other site, application, etc.
  • Once you’re comfortable with your wallet, export your private key, print it out and store it safely.
  • Anyone with your passphrase or private key can take your coins and you won’t be able to get them back.
  • If your hard drive crashes or your computer gets hacked, etc. you can use your passphrase or private key to recreate your wallet on a secured device (so can anyone else that has access to the passphrase or key).

Good luck on your journey and if you find other resources that you find useful, please do share them in the comments.

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Low Volatility, Low Yield in Stocks Fuel Bitcoin and Altcoins

There’s been no shortage of news about the surge in Bitcoin and some of the altcoins (alternative crypto currencies) in 2017. Japan allowing Bitcoins for transactions was a big factor in fueling the demand for Bitcoin as well as increasing odds that other countries, most notably South Korea, may follow suit.

However, there’s an additional factor that is driving up the demand and speculation in Bitcoin and other altcoins. A low volatility and low yield stock market is forcing many people to look elsewhere for volatility and higher yields. More funds are looking at cryptocurrencies as a place to take on more risk for the higher yield. More traders are finding solace in the volatility that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and altcoins such as Ethereum offer. The chart below shows the number of confirmed transactions on the Bitcoin Blockchain per day for the last 12 months.

Confirmed Transactions Per Day (click to enlarge), Source: Blockchain.info

The chart below shows the number Bitcoin Blockchain wallets, which have almost doubled over the last 12 months.

Bitcoin Blockchain Wallets (click to enlarge), Source: Blockchain.info

Now let’s look at the chart below, which is the USD equivalent of daily trading volume of only Bitcoin.

USD Exchange Trade Volume (click to enlarge), Source: Blockchain.info

The final chart shows the average daily market price for Bitcoin across major exchanges in USD.

Average USD market price for Bitcoin (click to enlarge), Source: Blockchain.info

From these charts, we can see:

  • The number of Bitcoin transactions is rising rapidly.
  • The number of wallets, and likely, the number of people jumping into the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency world continues to rise.
  • The daily trading volume of only Bitcoin continues to increase with wild swings.
  • Continued volatility in the price of Bitcoin is making it, and in turn, other cryptocurrencies very attractive to traders and speculators.

I expect volatility to moderate a bit in the short term but I also expect more and more traders, investors and technically savvy users jumping into the cryptocurrency world, mostly because of curiosity but also because other high-yield assets have already been widely invested in and the hunt for yield in a near zero interest rate world continues.

The whole ICO market is fascinating, if not highly speculative, and also offers another path to long-term yield. I expect this to add to the volatility and, hence, the increased speculation in the base cryptocurrencies. There aren’t many places that a company can raise $35 million for their company in less than a minute. Come to think of it, I can’t think of any place one can do that.

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