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Ethereum is an open-source blockchain platform that developers can use to build and run decentralized applications (dapps). Ethereum was proposed by Vitalik Buterin in 2013 and went into development in 2014 before launching in 2015, and has grown immensely over the years.
Its key feature is that it allows developers to create smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts that automatically complete tasks when specific conditions are met. As an example, a basic smart contract could say, “Pay John $50 if he emails me a 10-page report on pet obesity by November 30, 2021.”
These smart contracts are executed by the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which is powered by a decentralized international network of nodes. In the real world, Ethereum can be used to power dapps and smart contracts across a diverse range of industries, including everything from finance and insurance to supply chain management, betting and file storage.
Ethereum’s native asset, Ether (ETH), is the second-largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization after Bitcoin. ETH can be bought and traded on a wide range of cryptocurrency exchanges. It is also used by developers to pay for transaction fees and services on the Ethereum network.
A cryptocurrency exchange is a digital platform that allows you to buy, sell and trade cryptocurrency. They are similar to stock trading platforms.
Your first major consideration is to figure out whether you want to buy ETH with another cryptocurrency (like BTC or a stablecoin such as USDT) or use fiat currency like the US dollar or your own country’s currency, such as AUD, SGD or EUR.
For this article, we’ll assume you don’t own any cryptocurrency at present and want to purchase some Ether with your hard-earned USD or local currency. There used to be a big distinction between “fiat-to-crypto” and “crypto-to-crypto” exchanges until a year or two ago as a result of banking regulations in most countries. Now, many originally “crypto-to-crypto” exchanges accept fiat currency as payment or work with integrated service providers to convert your money into the digital asset of your choice, and send it to your exchange account within a few hours.
Cryptocurrency exchanges differ in terms of fees, security, and payment options, so you’ll have to do your due diligence before choosing the right one for you. When choosing a cryptocurrency exchange, it’s important to look at the fees and withdrawal options. The ideal exchange will have low fees and high-security features. As a beginner, it is best to choose an exchange with an easy user interface that doesn’t have too many features, which may overwhelm you.
When deciding where to purchase Ethereum, look for an exchange that lists ETH in one or more currency pairings.
When purchasing cryptocurrency for the first time, it’s important to choose an exchange that supports your local currency. The most popular exchanges in the United States include Coinbase, Kraken, Gemini, and Binance.US. All these exchanges are based in the US and comply with all local regulations. They are considered beginner-friendly and accept most payment options, including wire transfer and credit or debit card payment.
You can view a list of exchanges in the below table, where you can compare various features like fees, payment methods and the cryptocurrency and fiat currency pairs on offer.
Once you have chosen an exchange, you will need to create an account on the exchange’s website. You can do this by clicking the button next to the exchange in the table.
When picking an exchange, consider the following:
After you have chosen an exchange from the table below, click on the Go to site button and sign up with your name, email address, and a password.
You will then need to complete the Know Your Customer/Client (KYC) process, which is a legal AML requirement that requires you to verify your identity and address. To do this, you will need to provide a copy of your identification card, and a copy of a recent bank statement or utility bill that has your address on it. Sometimes you will also need to provide a selfie through the use of guided KYC software where you are holding your identification card.
Usually, KYC takes a few days, after which time your account will be verified and be ready for you to start using it.
After your account is approved, you will need to choose a payment method to deposit funds into your account before you can make any purchases.
To buy ETH, you’ll first need to deposit USD or another supported fiat currency into your exchange fiat currency account or link your credit card to the account.
If your exchange supports Ether (ETH) you’ll be able to buy ETH directly with your bank card, depending on local regulations. Some exchanges charge varying fees depending on the amount of ETH you’re buying, so pay attention to the cost of your transaction.
Depositing funds. A cheap way to buy ETH is via bank transfer. You’ll have to deposit the money from your bank account to the exchange account and use it to purchase ETH. However, although this may be the cheapest option, you may have to wait a couple of days for the funds to clear in your exchange account. Once the funds have cleared, you can purchase ETH with these funds.
Linking a card. Linking a credit or debit card to your exchange account can be a convenient way to purchase cryptocurrency. But, as mentioned above, this is usually a more costly option. Card payments are also usually done instantaneously so you won’t be able to deposit funds to use on the spot market.
In general, it’s best to avoid using a credit card to purchase cryptocurrency as you will have to pay interest on top of the exchange’s fees. Additionally, some credit card providers don’t allow you to purchase cryptocurrency at all.
Navigate to the markets section on your chosen exchange to find your desired ETH pairing. Look for the section on buying ETH, and type in the amount of the paired cryptocurrency you want to spend or the amount of ETH you want to buy.
Be aware that you don’t have to purchase a whole Ether, most exchanges will allow you to purchase a portion of one. Some cryptocurrency exchanges only offer one way to purchase cryptocurrency while others give you a few options. The most popular methods of purchasing cryptocurrency in the US are instant buy and the spot market.
Most exchanges offer the ability to buy cryptocurrencies like BTC and ETH instantly, and this is certainly one of the fastest ways to purchase ETH. Simply enter the amount you would like to purchase in your local currency and the exchange will calculate the equivalent amount of ETH, according to the market rate.
Buying ETH via the instant buy method is generally more expensive than on the spot market as there is usually an extra exchange fee added on top of the market price. This can be a simple way to purchase cryptocurrency for beginners but it’s important to be aware of the extra costs involved, especially if you are using this method with a linked credit card.
This is the most common way to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies.
The spot market operates like a stock exchange where buyers and sellers come together and make offers. As a buyer, you can look for the lowest price available, or make an offer at an even lower price and hope it gets accepted. This method provides the most competitive fees and pricing and gives users control over the price that they buy and sell cryptocurrency at.
While some people choose to store their cryptocurrency tokens in their exchange account, this is not recommended. As exchanges are regular targets for hackers and thieves, it’s generally considered a much safer option to move your ETH tokens into a wallet which allows you to retain full control of your private keys.
Happily, there are heaps of choices available when searching for an Ethereum wallet. Options you might like to consider include:
Cryptocurrencies are complicated and volatile assets, and buying any digital coin or token comes with a high level of risk attached. Before you buy, make sure you do plenty of research and that you recognize the factors that could potentially drive the price of a cryptocurrency asset either up or down.
If you’re thinking of buying Ether, consider the following factors first:
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