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What is cryptocurrency?

Crypto Finder's™ beginner's guide to getting started with crypto

Curious about the crypto markets? Today's top coins by market cap
Ready to buy some crypto? Learn how in 5 easy steps

You might have heard about Bitcoin, but there's so much more to cryptocurrency than that. Our guides make learning about cryptocurrency easy – allowing you to buy, trade, hold and earn crypto in less time than it takes to set up a new bank account.

Start investing today with our picks for the best crypto exchanges in Canada or learn more about individual coins and where to buy them. Don't forget to check out our best crypto wallets guide to learn how to keep your crypto safe.

This is not an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade or use any services.

What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies are digital assets that have a value, just like a $10 note is a physical token with 10 dollars of value assigned to it.

The difference is that digital currencies are electronic – they only live on the internet. In order for a cryptocurrency to have value, its coin needs to be unique, verifiable and unreplicable. The Bitcoin blockchain was the innovation that made this possible.

Crucial to crypto is the principle of decentralisation. There is no single authority or business (such as a bank or government) that controls cryptocurrencies. This idea of sovereignty over your assets and removing reliance on any sort of intermediary is something you'll hear about a lot.

Decentralisation also makes crypto a powerful medium of exchange because it minimises the costs and processing times of transactions.

Thanks to these innovations, legacy companies like Visa, PayPal and several banks have also begun adopting cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies.

Learn how to get started with crypto

Crypto quick start

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How does cryptocurrency work?

Cryptocurrency uses cryptographic technology to secure individual assets on a database called a "blockchain". A blockchain records transactions on a network in a way that cannot be altered.

You can think of a blockchain as hundreds of connected computers sharing information with one another. This builds a ledger of data that can be used to validate that each crypto transaction is legitimate and secure.

Some blockchains use a variation of proof-of-work or proof-of-stake consensus algorithms to execute transactions. Proof of work is where the term " Bitcoin miners" comes from. Miners operate powerful computers that solve complex mathematical problems, which helps secure the blockchain.

Proof of stake is a bit different. This algorithm uses staking – the process of locking up cryptocurrency on a specified blockchain wallet in exchange for a reward. Staking protocols use "nodes" – small copies of the blockchain being run on thousands of different computers.

Understanding how a crypto's algorithm works in detail isn't essential – or easy – but it can help explain movements in price.

What are the most traded cryptocurrencies?

You might be surprised to learn that Bitcoin (BTC) is not the most traded cryptocurrency, although it usually sits in the top 3. Instead, it's the dominant crypto by market capitalisation – a metric that shows the circulating supply of a coin, multiplied by its value.

Take a look at today's top 10 cryptos by market cap in the chart below.

How to buy cryptocurrency

  1. Compare crypto exchanges
    The easiest way to purchase cryptocurrency is through an exchange or trading platform. Features to look out for are low fees, supported coins and deposit methods. Registering an account with a Canada-based exchange will require you to provide a form of government identification.
  2. Deposit funds
    To deposit Canadian dollars to your exchange account, first, you'll need to verify your identity in a process known as KYC. Most exchanges accept instant transfers from a bank account, while others also support credit card purchases and sometimes even cash.
  3. Choose a cryptocurrency
    There are thousands of cryptos to choose from. Thoroughly research any you're interested in, check what's trending, and keep on top of the latest crypto news before investing any money.
  4. Build your crypto portfolio
    Most exchanges allow you to instantly buy cryptocurrency with the funds deposited to your account. Some platforms also have advanced market options and trading pairs which may be useful for more experienced traders.
  5. Store your crypto
    You can choose to leave your assets in your exchange wallet, but this does come with some added risks. It's generally recommended that you transfer your crypto to a non-custodial or hardware wallet for increased security.

Where to buy, sell and store crypto in Canada

Investors can now choose from a number of established and feature-rich crypto exchanges. If you're just starting out, look for exchanges registered with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC) that offer Canadian dollar deposits with your preferred payment method.

Click the Go to Site button when you're ready to create an account with any of the providers.

1 - 10 of 28
Name Product Deposit methods Fiat Currencies Cryptocurrencies
Netcoins Trading Platform
Cryptocurrency, Interac e-Transfer, Wire transfer


Buy Bitcoin and 10 other cryptocurrencies instantly using this straightforward broker.
Coinmama Cryptocurrency Marketplace
Fedwire, SEPA, Google Pay, SWIFT, Bank card


Founded in 2013, CoinMama lets you buy and sell popular cryptos with a range of payment options and quick delivery.
Bitbuy Digital Currency Exchange
Cryptocurrency, Interac e-Transfer, Wire transfer


Limited time only: Free $40* when you sign up and fund your Bitbuy account. T&Cs apply.
At this Canada-based cryptocurrency exchange, you can fund your account in CAD via Interac eTransfer and bank wire.
Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Cryptocurrency, Wire transfer, Osko, SEPA, Apple Pay, Google Pay, SWIFT


Buy, sell and trade a range of digital currencies on this high-liquidity exchange – suitable for beginners right through to advanced traders.
NDAX Cryptocurrency Trading Platform
Bank transfer (ACH)


Get a $10 bonus when you open an account and deposit at least CAD$100. T&Cs apply.
NDAX is a Canada-based digital asset exchange with CAD currency pairs and with options for advanced traders.
FTX Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer, Card, Wire transfer


Sign up through Finder for a 5% discount on all trading fees. T&Cs apply.
FTX is an exchange built by traders for traders, with a range of derivatives markets such as options and futures with deep leverage, in addition to standard spot markets. Note: Not available to Ontario users. App
Finder Award App
Credit card, Cryptocurrency, PayPal, TransferWise, SEPA


Buy 260+ cryptocurrencies, earn up to 14.5% p.a. on holdings, pay with your crypto for cashback at stores, get loans and more with this complete crypto-finance platform.
Coinberry Cryptocurrency Exchange
Credit card, Debit card, Interac e-Transfer, Wire transfer


Get a $20 bonus when you buy or sell at least CAD$50 in digital currency. T&Cs apply.
Buy and sell cryptocurrency with Canadian dollars on this beginner-friendly Canadian exchange.
Binance Cryptocurrency Exchange
Bank transfer (ACH)


Trade an extensive range of reputable coins on this world-renowned exchange, popular for its high liquidity and multi-language support.
CA residents: Binance is not currently available to Ontario-based users.
Changelly Crypto-to-Crypto Exchange
Credit card, Cryptocurrency


Access competitive crypto-to-crypto exchange rates for 150+ cryptocurrencies on this global exchange.
Disclaimer: Star ratings are only displayed for products with 10 or more reviews.

Compare up to 4 providers

1 - 5 of 65
Name Product Wallet Type Supported Cryptocurrencies Price (USD) Disclaimer
Ledger Nano X Wallet
Hardware wallet
BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, ADA, LTC, BNB, EOS, XTZ, XLM & 5,000+ more
The Ledger Nano X comes with added Bluetooth functionality, more memory and a higher quality screen than the original Nano S.
TREZOR Model T Wallet
Hardware wallet
The next generation of hardware wallet from TREZOR, the Model T includes a host of new features including a touchscreen and improved processing.
ZenGo Cryptocurrency App
Mobile wallet
Free download
Take advantage of ZenGo’s unique biometrics setup to buy, sell and spend and earn 70+ cryptocurrencies in your own wallet.
Ledger Nano S Plus Wallet
Hardware wallet
BTC, XRP, ETH, BCH, EOS, XLM, LTC, DOT, BNB, USDT & 5,000+ more
Secure and manage coins, tokens and NFTs with the latest hardware device from Ledger.
TREZOR One Wallet
Hardware wallet
BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, LINK, XLM, HT, USDC, DASH & 1280+ more
TREZOR hardware wallet is a secure way to keep your cryptocurrency safe from hackers and malware.

Compare up to 4 providers

Is cryptocurrency safe?

There are a number of risks associated with buying, storing and using digital currencies. Before jumping in, do plenty of research and make sure you understand how to keep your crypto safe. Some key risks to be aware of include:

  • Poor regulation. Cryptocurrency is still a largely unregulated market, which means you may not be protected if your funds are lost or stolen. Look for platforms that are registered with FINTRAC and provide an insurance fund.
  • Volatile prices. Crypto is much more unpredictable than traditional markets and massive price fluctuations within a short window are not uncommon. Because of this, your investment can quickly lose its value.
  • Vulnerable to hacking. Several million dollars have been lost to successful hacks of crypto exchanges, wallets and blockchains. It's important to understand that without appropriate security measures like using a hardware wallet, securing your private key and enabling 2-factor authentication, your funds could be stolen.
  • Steep technical learning curve. Grasping the complex technical foundations of potential crypto investments can quickly become confusing. You'll also need to fully understand concepts like gas fees and wallet addresses before interacting with a blockchain, or else risk total loss of funds.
  • Scams. As crypto has become popular, so too have crypto scams. Be extremely wary of deals that seem too good to be true, thoroughly research all platforms or projects before putting your money in, and never disclose your private key.


Get started with crypto

If you're just starting out in the world of crypto, it can feel overwhelming. Use our simple guides to research and compare different coins or take a look at our curated list of the best crypto exchanges and wallets to buy and secure your chosen assets.

Learn how to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptos

There are now well over 10,000 cryptocurrencies and tokens, with new coins launching all the time. We've cut through the noise and written guides on how to buy some of the most traded cryptos, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as hundreds of others.

Compare crypto exchanges in Canada

Compare dozens of major exchanges on features, fees, selection of cryptos and more in our comprehensive platform reviews.

Find the best crypto wallets to store your cryptos

Hardware, mobile, hot, cold… it's tricky knowing where to start with crypto storage. Our guides explain what's in a wallet to help you find your best options for convenience and security.

Get familiar with crypto trading

For more advanced investors, crypto could be a way to diversify your portfolio. Read our range of trading guides to get your bearings first.

Learn how to earn crypto returns

Crypto earning products are still in their infancy right now. Make sure you've got everything you need to make an informed decision.

Dive deeper into DeFi

From staking to smart contracts, our guides demystify DeFi and help you get your head around the new frontier of finance.

Cryptocurrency stats and predictions

Get expert insights and analysis across the crypto sector or use our forecasting tools to help predict where a coin's price might move.

Crypto research and tools

Crypto evolves at breakneck speeds, with new concepts, coins and technologies emerging all the time. Keep on top of the latest trends with our industry data, consumer research and handy tools.

Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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