With the boom in Bitcoin many people are looking at the digital currency boat and trying to see how to get on board before it sails out of port. While coin may be making money it’s not that user friendly for the uninitiated. Luckily I wasted lots of my money trying out the different ways to buy coin in the UK.
The first step in owning coin is getting a wallet, which is where you will be storing your coins when you buy them, each different coin needs its own wallet so you can end up owning quite a few. For this I’ve just linked the two most popular coins, other wallets are easily available with a quick google.
Once you have downloaded a wallet you need to let it sync to the network, this is your computer looking and registering the history of the coin, so it can tell that the coins you receive are legitimate and register them.
After you have your wallet you have two options, you can mine for coin (get coins by using your computer to solve complex problems that unlock new coins) or just straight up buy and trade coins. I’ll come back to mining later on, for now let’s look at buying.
Bitcoin, being the most established of all coins is fairly easy to purchase, check out this table of exchanges, some of which accept in GBP. Take your pick and buy.
Litecoin has a little less choice for UK buyers, most exchanges are US or Chinese, but there is still plenty of ways to get your coin. Bitbargain is one of the easiest ways into the coin, you can buy direct from sellers via online banking. Just register, then click Buy on an offer you want. When the seller confirms they are ready their bank details pop up on your screen, you make the transfer and when the money has gone through Bitbargain releases the Litecoin from the secure escrow into your account. Easy. Other ways of trading Litecoin are ‘Litecoin local’where you can buy online or in person or Kraken trading platform which allows you to fund your account in Euros using a SEPA international bank transfer from your UK account. (This may come with a fee). Of course you can always just buy bitcoin and then trade that direct for Litecoin on many of the big exchanges there are. Be careful though, several exchanges have higher withdrawal charges for Litecoin, and one of Europe’s biggest: BTC-e may be having some banking issues.
For most other coins you will need to buy BTC first and then trade for them. I found bter quite a good platform, although it did log me out quite a few times while I was trying to get set up. You can look at the value of all other cryptocoins here but do be wary, while Bitcoin and Litecoin are strong and trustworthy coins there are claims that some of the much smaller ones are just cheap money making tricks by their creators, do some research into whatever you are thinking of buying.
Once you have bought your coins you need to transfer them into your wallet. Your wallet has its own unique address, a string of letters and numbers, for example my litecoin address is LN4wFgRpGnnGcuZv2w7MAgY3kYxZFjYTRV make sure you withdraw your coin to your own address or you will be losing it.
If you’re planning to invest a lot, or even a little, it is good to think about security. There are several steps you can take to protect your wallet . Make sure you don’t get scammed or download anything dodgy. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
If you don’t want to put money up front you can turn instead to mining, so long as you aren’t planning on mining bitcoin. The difficulty of bitcoin is so high now that you need to buy several thousand pounds worth of equipment to get in. On the other hand if you want to take a punt on Litecoin or other crypto currencies then you can do it from your computer at home.
For litecoin you need to download a program to mine for you, for beginners GUI Miner scrypt seems the most user friendly though it isn’t necessarily the most efficient. Once you have it, you need to join a pool of other people, so you can contribute your work and get some coin. I found this video both helpful and amusing on the topic of joining a mining pool.
Once you have your coin you can then sell or trade it on the exchanges as before.
Those are the very basics that I managed to glean from having a stab at the world of coin. If you have any questions then head over to the relevant section in reddit for bitcoin or litecoin where questions seem to get answered helpfully and promptly (though naturally it is reddit).
Best of luck, and remember who to helped you get started when your thousands of pounds up in profit.