Bitcoin investing and trading 101
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Bitcoin investing and trading 101How to Invest in Bitcoin: Complete Beginner's Guide
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Exchanges are the most straightforward and popular method for acquiring Bitcoin. There are well over operational Bitcoin exchanges worldwide, but steering clear of exchanges that are known for wash trading and sticking with major reputable exchanges is the most prudent move. There are several types of exchanges in the cryptocurrency market, including centralized exchanges, decentralized exchanges DEXs , P2P marketplaces, crypto-to-crypto exchanges, and fiat-to-crypto on-ramps.
Adequately understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each is crucial. First, the difference between crypto-to-crypto and fiat-to-crypto exchanges stems from their regulatory jurisdictions and whether or not they can offer direct trading pairs of Bitcoin with fiat currencies. Coinbase is the most popular fiat-to-crypto on-ramp in the U. Further, exchanges like Coinbase are centralized and custodial platforms, meaning that when your bitcoins are stored on the platform, they are technically not yours as they can be frozen like with a bank account.
Crypto-to-crypto exchanges solely offer trading in and out of different cryptocurrencies, with prices of altcoins pegged to Bitcoin or stablecoins like Tether or USDC. However, these exchanges sometimes offer excellent trading experiences and can be used to access other cryptocurrencies widely not available on fiat on-ramps.
Binance is one the leading cryptocurrency exchanges in the world and is a centralized crypto-to-crypto platform. The differences between centralized and decentralized exchanges are essential for several reasons.
First, centralized exchanges have custody over your Bitcoin, just as a bank retains custody over your fiat funds. Second, these exchanges are prone to targeting by hackers, and the sheer scale of hacks on exchanges in was astounding. It is best practice never to store your Bitcoin on an exchange, even a decentralized one.
Conversely, DEXs are useful for direct exchanges between counterparties, without an intermediary. Unfortunately, many DEXs do not have enough trading volume to be as liquid as their centralized counterparts, and recent directives by the SEC towards EtherDelta may discourage operators from continually running DEXs outside of legal jurisdictions.
OpenBazaar and Bisq are open-source marketplaces without registration and an emphasis on privacy and security. Volumes on decentralized marketplaces are substantially lower than their centralized counterparts, but they are rapidly gaining traction among privacy proponents and users seeking better security assurances.
Similarly, Bitcoin volume metrics sites like CoinDance indicate that decentralized exchange platforms are growing in use in countries with problematic inflation and economic conditions, especially Venezuela.
These platforms offer censorship-resistant avenues for citizens in countries like Venezuela to buy into crypto and fiat currencies that are much more stable than their local currencies. Access to investing in Bitcoin has never been more abundant, but there are still significant strides that need to be made for access to reach its ideal levels that support a global, decentralized value system. Most investors in Bitcoin reside in countries where Bitcoin is more of a speculative investment or part of a professional focus rather than stemming from direct needs for an alternative medium of value.
In countries like Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Argentina, the situation for investing in Bitcoin hinges more on a legitimate need to seek alternative currencies due to adverse economic conditions. Increasing access to such areas of the world is an important initiative, and several developments may broaden access outside of solely the proliferation of decentralized marketplaces.
Bitcoin ATMs are one avenue to grant easier access in localities, often available in convenience stores and supermarkets. You can even buy Bitcoin at Coinstar machines in select locations in the U.
However, the regulatory frameworks for these services are complicated, and unclear in the U. Other alternative means for investing in and using Bitcoin include emerging projects focusing on Bitcoin vouchers and credit sticks.
You can top up a Bitcoin account by simply using the Azteco voucher like you would for topping up a phone, and the details are available on their website. Similarly, OpenDime is a service where users can physically exchange Bitcoin credit sticks. The credit sticks are secure USB sticks that contain the private key within the device itself. Such functionality enables Bitcoin to be transferred between parties locally with assurances that the private key is not compromised as long as the stick is sealed.
Users can even pass around the stick multiple times. OpenDime has some intriguing long-term implications, and its emergence in economies with weak economic conditions will be something to watch closely. Financial instruments using cryptocurrencies are also on the rise, with services like Celsius Network and BlockFi permitting users to take out loans with their crypto holdings as the underlying collateral.
Moreover, lenders on Celsius Network can earn interest through their P2P lending pool that is paid by the borrowers, paid out directly in the crypto that their deposit was made in, including Bitcoin. More advanced Bitcoin users who are familiar with its second layer — the Lightning Network — also have the future potential to earn BTC through relay fees and watchtowers.
Watchtowers are services that monitor the Bitcoin blockchain for their clients to identify transaction breaches on the LN and issue penalty transactions. Relay fees can be acquired by LN nodes that connect to numerous peers and help route payments through the mesh network for users who are not directly connected with a channel to a party they wish to exchange BTC with.
These developments are still in their very early stages, but they offer useful mechanisms for users willing to provide services to LN users to accumulate BTC in fees. Numerous avenues for merchants to accept Bitcoin as payment are also available, including Coinbase Commerce that is integrated with major e-commerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.
Merchants can opt to retain their BTC as an investment or exchange it directly for fiat. Other more obscure methods for acquiring Bitcoin include Bitcoin puzzles.
Bitcoin puzzles are digital art that individuals post to the Internet which contain the private keys to access bitcoins that are locked as the reward for solving the puzzle. Outside of the emerging alternatives for investing in Bitcoin, the convergence of traditional finance and blockchains is also set to create more opportunities for increased exposure to the asset.
ETFs are investment vehicles for individual or groups of assets that enable investors to speculate on the market price without having to actually own the asset. Bitcoin ETFs would allow more mainstream investors to access Bitcoin through investing in an ETF that is on a regulated exchange without having to purchase Bitcoin directly from a crypto exchange.
It's been a challenging year for Wall Street. But one investment that hasn't been phased by the coronavirus pandemic or heightened volatility is the cryptocurrency bitcoin. On a year-to-date basis, through Wednesday evening, Oct. Why does bitcoin continue to outperform equities? For one, there's the idea of scarcity. Only 21 million bitcoin tokens can be mined, which creates a level of scarcity that pushes up the value of these digital tokens. Another reason bitcoin has done so well is the expectation of a digital revolution.
This is to say that bitcoin buyers believe the utility of paper money has come and gone. This could prove somewhat accurate with the pandemic highlighting the potential for physical cash to be a carrier of harmful germs.
With the rise of peer-to-peer payment platforms, bitcoin looks to become the superior digital currency. Bitcoin also benefits from its first-mover advantage in the cryptocurrency space. It was the first digital token to catch on with investors, and happens to be the largest on a market-cap basis by a significant amount it's five times the size of Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap.
Today, bitcoin serves as the intermediary asset on a number of crypto investment platforms if you want to purchase a less-common token i.
But as good as bitcoin has been for investors in , my blunt opinion is that it's a terrible investment. Here are 10 reasons you should avoid bitcoin like the plague. First of all, bitcoin is only as scarce as its programming dictates. Whereas physical metals, such as gold, are limited to what can be mined from the earth, bitcoin's token count is limited by computer programming. It's not out of the question that programmers, with overwhelming community support, could choose to increase bitcoin's token limit at some point in the future.
Thus, bitcoin offers the perception of scarcity without actually being scarce. The king of cryptocurrencies also has a utility problem. To date, only Even considering the fact that fractional token ownership exists, roughly 10 million to 11 million tokens in circulation aren't going to go very far. There's minimal utility here. Bitcoin may enjoy first-mover advantage at the moment, but the barrier to entry in the cryptocurrency space is especially low.
All it takes is time and coding knowledge for blockchain -- the digital and decentralized ledger that records transactions -- to be developed and a digital token to be tethered to the network. There's nothing unique about bitcoin's underlying blockchain that other businesses couldn't one-up.
Another beef with bitcoin is that there's no tangible way to value it as an asset. For instance, if you want to buy shares of a publicly traded company, you can scour income statements, its balance sheet, read about industrywide catalysts, and listen to management commentary from recent conference calls and presentations. In other words, you can make an informed decision. With bitcoin, there is no tangible data for investors to wrap their hands around. There's transaction settlement times and total circulating token supply, but neither of these figures tells us anything about the value or utility of bitcoin.
I believe investors are also placing their faith in the wrong asset. Over the long term, blockchain technology is where the real value lies. Blockchain can be used to reinvent supply-chain management and expedite overseas payments.
But when folks are buying into bitcoin, they're gaining ownership in digital tokens with zero ownership of the underlying blockchain. To build on this point, companies are also testing blockchain that's tethered to fiat currencies.