Over the past couple of weeks, I have had A LOT of friends and family reach out to me personally, asking about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Could it be all of the news of Bitcoin or other factors recently? Those who previously scoffed at the idea are now curious. Crypto and blockchain are becoming mainstream.
While I’m very excited this is happening, there is also a lot of risks right now with new, uneducated people entering the ecosystem. For example to those unaware, there are now 3 types of Bitcoin! The intent of this article is not to reinvent educational content from others wiser than I, but to act as a brief December 2017 guidepost to the ecosystem as I see it right now. It’s an exciting world, but enter at your own risk!
Please Note: I will strongly emphasize here that this is NOT investment advice. Do your own research and be comfortable with the money and services you’re using. To use a popular crypto phrase, don’t get Gox’ed. Only invest what you’re willing to lose.
Blockchain the Disruptor
As a primer to blockchain technology, here’s an interesting video I recently came across. It gives some background to not just cryptocurrency, but other potential blockchain use cases.
So you see, blockchain has the potential to impact more than just currency. I’m personally more interested in non-monetary use cases and have pursued this in my own transportation profession with the TripChain project where I presented at the #ITEToronto2017 international conference back in August.
I’m purposefully keeping this brief. Here are a few go-to resources to get you started on your research. This is not an extensive list, but some top-of-the-head ideas.
One of my go-to sources for daily reading is CoinDesk. Interesting stories from Bitcoin and the various other altcoins. This is a good place to get started and begin to understand what’s happening in the ecosystem.
Cryptocurrency Market Capitalizations
CoinMarketCap is a great resource for tracking the various currencies, including news, market cap, price volume, supply, and other juicy info. There are lots of interactive charts to fascinate and scare you a bit.
Once your comfortable with what’s going on and your options to buy into the speculation, you need to exchange some of your government fiat currency for some cryptocurrency. Here is a guide to cryptocurrency exchanges to educate you on the basics and give some options. To my knowledge, Kraken and Coinsquare.IO are the more prevalent ones in Canada at the moment, but this is should not be considered an endorsement of these services!
I will emphasize that exchanges are likely the weakest point in the cryptocurrency system. Here, you’re relying on trust and good faith to some degree to make the currency exchange and you could get burned! This lesson was learned by many with the collapse of Bitcoin’s first exchange, MtGox. Learn this story well! I generally advocate that it is good practice to hold your assets in a wallet (see below) that you have direct control of unless you are engaged in active trading on an exchange.
So, where do you keep all of this cryptocurrency when you get ahold of some? You need to hold it in a wallet or some kind. There are lots of wallet types out there to chose from. How do you store your currency and who do you trust? Here is a good wallet guide/tutorial to get you started.
I will make one recommendation here. I use Blockfolio to track my crypto investments. It’s a straightforward and easy to use app that lists your holdings, provides links to news, and other information. It comes in both iOS and Android flavours to suit your preference.
To dig deeper into cryptocurrencies and blockchain in general, here are a couple of resources I have used to further my education on this subject.
If you understand the basics and want to learn more, Blockgeeks is a great resource for coursework, community, and guides to increase your knowledge and understanding of blockchains in general.
The courses at edX are general purpose and provided by many authoritative institutions. I like their business model because you can audit their courses for free or certify for a fee (even after auditing). I mention this here because the Linux Foundation recently put out a course for their Hyperledger project to learn about blockchain for business applications.
Overall, please keep in mind that it is still the wild west in terms of both cryptocurrencies and blockchain. It will be interesting to review what’s posted above in 6 or 12 months to see what’s changed from the above. Again, consider this article to be a guidepost. It is not conclusive nor does it constitute specific investment advice.
What other cryptocurrency and/or blockchain resources do you use that I didn’t cover here? How extensive is your knowledge about cryptocurrency and blockchain? How disruptive will these technologies be? I look forward to hearing your feedback.