In this article, we are going to address the questions “What is cryptocurrency trading?” and “How to trade cryptocurrency?” and explain this process in detail for beginners.
As cryptocurrency is widely seen as a speculation tool, most digital money users have thought of becoming a trader. As a result, a lot of people are involved in this activity, many of them lacking the knowledge necessary to succeed. Our cryptocurrency trading guide will help you enter this highly competitive market and avoid the mistakes typical for a newbie.
How to trade cryptocurrency: the basics
Cryptocurrency trading may seem confusing to a beginner, even if you have some conventional trading experience. Therefore, it would be useful to highlight the most important issues you will have to deal with in the very beginning of our article. They are:
- Choosing a secure crypto exchange
- Defining crypto trading strategy
- Ensuring safe crypto management and storage
You’d better pay attention to each of these issues, as you can lose your money at any stage.
Fiat to crypto trading and crypto-to-crypto trading
Ok, you have decided to try cryptocurrency trading, and are impatient to start. The first thing you will need is a crypto exchange — an online cryptocurrency trading platform that connects people seeking to buy or sell fiat or digital currencies.
Choosing an exchange
There are dozens of exchanges, that might look ok to a newbie. But, before you trust any of them with your digital funds, use our checklist to see if the platform has the things you really need.
- Availability: the exchange may be very good with one exception — you are not eligible for using it. For instance, the famous Binance exchange “is unable to provide services to any U.S. person”, meaning no American passport holder can register there. To get this and other important issues clear, it’s recommended to see the FAQ and carefully read the Term and Condition section on the website. Also, look for such documents as license agreements, KYC policy, etc.
- Good reviews: before you register on an exchange, make a research to see if other people are happy with its fees and policies and if its customer support is responsive to clients’ complaints. What are these complaints, by the way? Look for a first-hand trading experience, it’s always a good idea to reach out to the crypto community and ask for advice.
- Fees and exchange rates: cryptocurrency exchanges may be very different in terms of exchange rates and trading fees. Both parameters influence your potential profits, so take your time to examine them. Some platforms may charge you as little as 0.10%, the others — up to 2.00%. The gap looks striking, but it’s important to understand that the exchanges with a high level of security normally charge more. Also, low fees may be balanced by the so-called “withdrawal fee”, when you have to pay a certain amount to the exchange is you decide to empty your exchange account.
- Safety measures: security matters: a good crypto trading platform should provide you some tools to protect your money and implement measures like mandatory 2FA (2-factor authentication), captcha, strong password requirements or anti-phishing code feature, etc. It’s a good sign if they keep at least 95% of their customers’ funds in cold storage, that cannot be reached by attackers.
Finally, a respectable exchange wants you to verify your ID, in one way or another. Yes, it takes time, but it’s better to wait than to lose all your funds on an anonymous platform.
Now when you have made your shortlist, let’s see what steps have to be made to start trading. We will use the Exscudo exchange as a reference here because it’s an up-to-date platform we have developed with the user’s convenience in mind.
Step 1: Signing Up and Account Creation
Registering on a crypto exchange is rather simple. Go to the main page of the exchange and click the Register button in the upper right corner.
You will get a pop-up like the one shown below.
Enter a valid email, create a password, check both boxes and click Register. After that, go to your Inbox and activate your account by following the link in the message.
The email address, linked to your crypto exchange account should be protected, too.
First, it cannot be used for any other purpose — in fact, the biggest mistake would be to link your exchange account to your primary email, which you leave anywhere. It’s easy to find and hack, getting access to your cryptocurrency.
Second, it’s recommended to create a brand-new and totally secure email account with 2FA enabled. It can be made using a special service like ProtonMail.
Congratulations! You have created an account and made the first step on the way to becoming a crypto trader. It’s too early to operate with real money until you have passed a verification procedure), but you may use a special exchange simulator to understand how it all works, without running any financial risks.
If you want to deal with real money on the real exchange, the next step will be to verify your identity and let the exchange know you better.
To start it, click the Preference/Settings icon in the right upper corner.
Step 2: Verification procedure
To have your identity verified, you will have to provide the documents the exchange requires, bind your telephone number and fill in some forms. It’s a part of the so-called KYC (Know-Your-Customer) procedure developed to fight money-laundering and other illegal practices.
It consists of several tiers; after you have completed the Tier 1 steps, Tier 2 is unlocked, and so on. Taking it to the next level may be optional (if you prefer to leave some questions unanswered) but it means getting access to more trading opportunities and benefits.
This is how the Verification procedure page looks. (Preferences → Verification)
Fill in the fields and provide the required information, following the instructions of the system.
Step 3: Securing your account
The next step will be to protect your account: as we know, in the world of cryptocurrency if your money is lost, it’s normally lost forever. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to go to the Preferences section and take the following security measures:
- Create a strong and unique password for your account: strong means impossible to guess, so avoid using personal details or some well-known phrases. A password should be long, contain random numbers, characters, and symbols, and make no sense at all. Alternate upper-and lowercase characters.
- Implement 2-factor authentication (2FA): this measure means that after entering your password you will have to enter an additional one-time password (OTP) sent to your smartphone. 2AF should be applied both to your account and your withdrawal operations.
- Install good anti-virus software and update it regularly: freeware that you’re probably using on your home computer does not ensure the level of security you need if you are engaged in cryptocurrency trading. Explore the antivirus software options, adequate for your trading needs, and install it on all of the devices you plan to use for signing in on the exchange.
How to start trading cryptocurrency
Ok, now you are ready to buy your first BTC or another coin. How does a crypto trading platform work, exactly? On the Exscudo exchange, you can operate with multiple assets, both crypto, and fiat.
Now you can deposit real money to start trading.
To make a cryptocurrency transaction, send an appropriate amount from your wallet. We will talk about wallets in detail later in the article.
To deposit fiat currencies we may use SEPA, SWIFT and credit card transactions.
Go to the Wallets tab and click the Deposit button for the currency of your choice.
If you choose a fiat currency, you will get this window.
You can also deposit cryptocurrency. Just choose a deposit option like BTC and enter the deposit address. The amount deposited will be displayed in one of your exchange wallets.
First, we need to navigate to the trading interface. To do so, click on the Exchange tab, as shown below.
Then, click on any of the pairs from the list.
You will see this window with a trading chart and the Place order block in the right bottom corner, featuring Sell and Buy tabs. Choose one of them, fill in the Price and Amount fields and submit your order.
The example above features BTC/EON pair. If you want to change a pair, choose the one you need in the drop-down list in the upper left corner of the chart.
Withdrawal of funds
When you trade is finalized, you may want to withdraw your funds. For it, go to the Wallet page, where you assets are displayed and click Withdraw. The money will go to the wallet of your choice (cryptocurrency wallets and ways of their use will be considered in detail later in this article, stay with us).
Cryptocurrency trading wisdom: things to keep in mind
We have shown you what a trading process looks like, in a nutshell. Before you start active trading, we would like to share a few simple rules that might prove extremely useful.
- Learn the basics of risk management: smart risk management allows you to protect your trading account from losing all your money and curb the risks of the market. This moment is often overlooked by beginners, who lack the knowledge and cannot control their anxiety or excitement.
- Set up your goals and develop your trading strategy: as cryptocurrencies are still highly volatile, their prices can increase or decrease greatly within a short period. If it grows significantly (say, by 40%), you should pull out some part of the profit you have already made instead of waiting for your coin to grow even bigger. Don’t be greedy — if you wait too long, the risk of losing all your profit due to a sudden price drop greatly increases. Currently, prices are hard to predict, even if you deal with the top cryptos like Bitcoin
- Explore additional tools to make trading more convenient: cryptocurrency trading bots is what comes to mind first when we talk about automated systems. But there are other less expensive and complicated tools, such as configurable loss/take profit rules of advanced trading terminals. They help you buy and sell at the right time, minimizing your losses and maximizing your gains. It would be smart to check if your exchange provides such instruments, and learn to use them.
- Follow the Bitcoin price dynamics: it’s important, as most coins are influenced by how the leader is doing. If BTC price skyrockets or plummets, the prices of other cryptocurrencies tend to go down. The best time for altcoins is when BTC price stays more or less stable.
- Diversify your funds: if you operate with one asset, you will gain more if its price grows, but you may lose everything if it drops. If you invest in multiple assets, you have better odds that your losses will be balanced by your gains at the end of the day. Base your choice of cryptos on what you have learned from the industry experts, but remember that no promise, whoever makes it, can be trusted 100%.
- Don’t be driven by FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out): many people still regret they didn’t buy Bitcoins back in 2010, missing their only chance to become billionaires. It makes them fall for any over-hyper coin which comes up with a revolutionary promise. FOMO is easy to manipulate, and it’s the point when people easily lose their money. Be aware of it, don’t let FOMO influence your trading choices.
- Analyze your mistakes: when you lose some money, don’t give it all up. Explore the reasons why you have failed, assess the situation and try to learn from it. Such an experience is inevitable for any trader, especially if they deal with volatile assets like cryptocurrencies. Don’t let it discourage you. Also, it would be useful to set the level of acceptable loss. When your coin reaches it, you sell it for fiat, automatically.
Reading cryptocurrency charts
Reading a cryptocurrency trading chart may be a challenge, especially for a beginner. Most people don’t know how to do it, and they buy and sell following the advice of their experienced friends, or their own intuition. In this part, we will consider two widely spread types of trading charts.
Japanese Candlestick Charts
This type of cryptocurrency chart is the most popular one: everyone who visited a cryptocurrency exchange site has seen a Japanese candlestick chart there. It looks like this:
How a Japanese candlestick chart works
“The candlesticks” refer to the green and red sticks you clearly see on the graph (the color may vary depending on the mode). Each stick shows how the price of a certain asset was doing within a specific period of time. Therefore, the chart indicates the price changes and, indirectly, can reflect the market’s attitude toward the coin.
What a “candle” is made of
On the image above you see that every “candle” has a “body” and “shadows” (or “wicks”). The body of the candle represents the difference between the opening and closing price. The opening price is the price at which a coin is traded when the exchange opens for the day, and the closing price is the price of a coin by the end of a trading day. The color of the “body” shows us if the price of the coin fell or rose. The shadows show how low (or how high) it has gone.
Relative Strength Index (RST)
This index compares the current price of a coin to its performance in the past, thus measuring the strength and change of price movements over time. RSI is normally used to see if the cryptocurrency has been overbought or oversold recently, and assess the general trend. It uses the scale from 1 to 100, where above 70 is overbought and below 30 is oversold.
To see RTS on the Exscudo exchange site, go to the Indicators menu and choose the Relative Strength Index there.
Without going deeper, there are a few things to know about the RSI chart. They are:
- When a coin is approaching 70 or crossing this mark, it means “overbought” or, put simply, overvalued. It may indicate that its price will drop soon.
- When your coin is reaching or crossing the 30 mark, it means “undervalued”. Probably, it’s time for you to buy it because the price is likely to go up.
Where to trade cryptocurrencies
Now, when you have got a basic understanding of how to trade cryptocurrencies let see where you can do it. In fact, The Exscudo exchange we used as an example before, would be a really good choice, with its high-security level and a beginner-friendly interface.
There are some other platforms you can trade your crypto on. The most important and popular are:
- Binance: the largest cryptocurrency in the world, created by the mysterious CZ (Changpeng Zhao). Binance supports many of the popular coins and provides a crypto wallet. It has its own token Binance Coin (BNB). The platform is very popular due to their low fees and additional discounts for users of the native tokens.
- Coinbase: one of the major cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase was founded by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam back in 2012. The platform operates in 33 countries of the world. It is widely known as a beginner-friendly place.
- Bitfinex: the platform was founded in 2012, becoming one of the pioneers in this sector. They offer many advanced tools and an excellent customer support service. The exchange features a great variety of crypto/crypto and crypto/fiat trading pairs.
- Bittrex: the US-based cryptocurrency exchange that has been operating since 2015. It provides its users thousands of cryptocurrency pairs and is known as one of the safest platforms with a strict verification procedure.
- BitMEX: one of the best exchanges for professional or advanced level crypto traders. The founding team of BitMEX are world-class professionals in finance and web-development.
- OKEX: based in Malta, OKEX is a big multi-cryptocurrency exchange where users may trade cryptos and fiat-backed tokens. Offers a variety of algorithmic trading tools, targeted on professional traders.
Cryptocurrency trading safety
We have already mentioned that safety should be the top priority of a crypto trader and outlined some basic rules. Now let’s talk in detail about a wallet that holds and manages your money.
Digital wallet: Private and Public key briefly explained
A wallet is used to store your cryptocurrency. It generates and saves the so-called Private and Public keys. Both keys look like a string of random characters, the length and format depending on the type of wallet you use.
Why do you need these keys for?
Simply put, another person needs to know your Public key to send you cryptocurrency, and you need your Private key to get access to it. If someone else knows your Private key, it means that you are not an exclusive owner of your funds anymore.
Imagine the Public key is your email address, and the Private key is the password to your email account. You give your address to people because you want them to contact you. You keep your password secret because you don’t want them to read and manage your mail. This thing made clear, let’s talk about the crypto wallets and their types.
Types of cryptocurrency wallets
They are five types of crypto wallets a beginner should know about:
- Hardware wallet: It’s a special hardware device designed to store your cryptocurrencies and handle your Private and Public keys.
- Paper wallet: it’s a sheet of paper with your Private keys and Public address printed on it.
- Desktop wallet: it’s a software package installed on your computer (available for Mac, Windows, Linux).
- Mobile wallet: it’s a mobile app (available for Android and iOS) that allows you to manage your crypto funds from a smartphone.
- Web wallet: it’s a wallet that can be accessed through different web browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, IE, etc) by entering a URL in the address bar. This kind of wallet is Internet-based and available from anywhere.
Roughly, all of them can be divided into 2 big categories — cold and hot wallets.
Read on to know the pros and cons of each type.
Hot storage vs Cold Storage
The main difference between cold and hot cryptocurrency wallets is their connection to the Internet.
Hot or cold?
Mobile, desktop and web-based wallets are connected to the Internet, therefore they are hot. Hardware wallets are disconnected from it, therefore they are cold. A paper wallet is cold by default.
Hot and cold storages: Functional difference
A hot wallet may be compared to your leather wallet, where you keep your cash and cards. It’s enough to reach into your pocket to pay for something. It is easy to carry around and also easy to lose if you are careless — and then your money is lost forever.
A cold wallet is more like a vault in a bank, or a safe at home. It’s rather bulky and it requires certain manipulations to get opened. You cannot reach it from anywhere, at any moment, but it’s extremely safe.
Naturally, the first one holds the money you need for making daily purchases, and the second is used for storing the bulk of your fortune or your family jewels.
This category includes exchange-provided, desktop, mobile and multi-signature wallets that will be explained in detail later. Hot storage, as well as the cold one, has its pros and cons that we plan to explore in this part. As always, they are rooted in the same features.
Pros of Hot wallets
Let’s look at the pros of this type of wallets:
- They allow you easy access to your funds.
- Hot wallets are supported by different devices you use.
- These wallets are very user-oriented and have an intuitive interface.
- They are often available free of charge.
Cons of Hot wallets
There are also some cons, to balance the advantages:
- They are less protected and more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
- Also, they depend on the device — unless you take care to back up your keys, you run a risk to get your wallet damaged, lost or robbed, if it happens to the device.
- If hot wallets are provided by an exchange, it often means that the platform keeps your Private keys and you don’t have full control of your funds.
These things made clear, we are going to explore the most popular types of hot storages in detail.
Hot Wallet: Exchange wallets
The simplest way to get a wallet is to use an exchange-provided one. This is the place to which the client’s funds are sent. The private keys are normally kept by the platform, which is responsible for their safety.
The level of safety of this type of storage depends on what measures the provider implements to protect the clients’ funds (2FA, strong password requirements, anti-phishing measures, etc). Despite the fact that most platforms claim they take all the necessary steps, it’s really hard to check if it is true. Therefore, you’d better opt for a well-reputed exchange with zero history of successful hacker attacks. Another tip would be not to keep the bulk of your funds in an exchange-provided wallet.
Every year cryptocurrency exchanges lose millions to hackers. In the 1st half of 2018, $731 mln worth of crypto was stolen from various platforms, according to the CipherTrace report. The biggest hacks were due to poor funds management: the exchanges stored an abnormally big amount of crypto in their hot wallets. These cases increased investors’ concern about their funds safety, making many platforms review their security measures.
The basic feature of an exchange-provided hot wallet is high-liquidity, meaning it is perfect for making frequent and constant transactions, as you have easy and fast access to the money on your account.
Hot wallet: Desktop and Mobile wallets
These types of wallets are very popular, too: they are simple to install, set and use. All you have to do to get a mobile or a desktop wallet is to download the client software from the provider’s website/App Store/Google Play Store and start using it.
The number of wallets downloaded by crypto users has increased from 6.7 mln in 2013 to over 34.6 mln in 2019.
Desktop wallets: Overview
They are convenient to use if you are always at your computer and want to manage your funds from a big screen. Like any hot storage, a desktop wallet may be vulnerable to an attack, so you need to invest in adequate antivirus software.
Obviously, this type is not very mobile and flexible, as it’s linked to your PC. It means you cannot access it from another device.
Mobile wallets: Overview
A natural choice of people with an active lifestyle, who value flexibility and portability. You have access to your money any time, anywhere you go. Also, a mobile wallet app offers additional features like QR-code scanning.
The biggest con is the comparative lack of security, inherent in all hot storages in general. It doesn’t mean you cannot trust them, it means they are not ‘Fort Knox’ secure.
Hot wallet: Multi-Signature wallets
A multi-sig wallet, as the name suggests, is storage that requires more than one person to be opened. Let’s see why and where it may be useful.
It’s a specific type of digital signature that makes it possible for multiple users to sign something as a group. Simply put, it’s a combination of 3 or more unique individual signatures.
When it may be useful
A multi-sig wallet is a good measure to protect collectively owned money. For instance, you have raised a million dollars during an ICO. If you store it in one wallet, controlled by one person, s/he can escape with the funds. If it’s stored in multi-signature storage, it is less likely to happen.
How it works
A multi-sig wallet issues multiple keys, each kept by one holder. Any transaction made will require the combination of at least 2 signatures. It ensures additional protection from attacks, too: to access the funds a hacker has to get all the three keys, and not one.
The smartest way to store your cryptocurrencies would be using a cold or hardware wallet. It is permanently disconnected from the web, meaning it cannot be reached and hacked, or infected by malware. If you implement all the necessary measures, it is as safe as a bank vault. Cold storage may also be compared to your savings account.
There are different types of cold storage (including the ones used by exchanges to keep the bigger part of their funds), but we will focus on two of them — paper and hardware wallets.
Cold storage: Hardware wallets
Hardware wallet is a USB-style device for storing your crypto. The most common brands on this market are Trezor and Ledger, both featuring an extremely high level of security. Let’s see what pros and cons this type has and view the shortlist of the most popular models.
Pros of Hardware Wallets
- They are 100% secure. Well, it maybe 99,99%, but it is still the best way to store your digital funds.
- They are easy to carry around. Sometimes the design is cool, too.
- You can use them to make a transaction. For it, plug in the wallet to a compatible device and follow the hints of the system. Normally, the procedure is really simple.
- While disconnected, they are immune to hackers and malware attacks.
- They can store several coins.
- If you lose them, you can restore access to your funds using ‘a seed phrase’.
Cons of Hardware Wallets
- As any device, they can be lost, destroyed, damaged or stolen.
- They store a limited number of coins. Sometimes only Bitcoins.
- As any hardware, they can have some design flaws or manufacturing defects, though authentic devices by trusted manufacturers are extremely safe.
- It’s won’t protect you from all types of attacks. For instance, it is helpless, if your PC is infected with a special kind of malware, which automatically swaps the address you send your coins to for the hacker’s address.
They were the generic pros and cons of hardware wallets. Now let’s view the most popular models, usually recommended by experts.
Popular hardware models
- Tresor Model T. ($149)
BTC, BCH, LTC, ETH, ETC, DASH, ZEC, NMC, DOGE and some other ERC20 tokens
- Ledger Nano S. ($98)
BTC, ETH, ETC, Dash, Ripple, Stratis, ZCash, Litecoin, NEO, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Cash, Viacoin and some other coins
- CoolWallet S ($99)
Can store: BTC, BCH, LTC, XRP, ETH, and ERC20 tokens
- KeepKey Hardware Wallet ($79)
BTC, BCH, BTG, DASH, DOGE, LTC, ETH, and ERC20 tokens
- Digital Bitbox ($28)
Can store: BTC, LTC, ETH, ETC, and ERC20 tokens
Cold storage: Paper wallets
Technically, a paper wallet is a piece of paper with your public and private keys printed on it. This data is often presented as a QR-code.
How to make a paper wallet
First, you need to generate matching private and public keys. For this, you use a special tool called a wallet generator. The most popular of them are Bitaddress.org, Walletgenerator.net, Bitcoinpaperwallet.org, and MyEtherWallet.com.
The process is simple: you enter some random character on a wallet generator site and follow the hints of the system. When you’re done, the keys are displayed on the screen and you may print them. The important thing is to have your computer screened for malware and your printer disconnected from the wi-fi.
Protecting a paper wallet
Store your paper wallet in a safe place where neither kids nor animals can reach. The best place for it would be a safe or a bank vault. You may want to make several copies and hide them in different places, in case of fire or flood.
Pros and cons
Using a paper wallet is not recommended for the funds you plan to use regularly. In this case, you would better invest in a hardware model. The biggest advantage of a paper wallet is that it is very secure if you manage to hide it well.
Restoring a cryptocurrency wallet
How do you bring your coins out of your cold storage?
First, import your private key to an online wallet that supports this function. The process is easy to understand: you open the client, select the Debug Window, click the Console tab, type the import command in the field and press Enter. The data will be imported to your hot wallet.
Remember, now it is not as safe as it used to be.
Helpful tool: CoinMarketCap
Coinmarketcap.com is a platform aimed at tracking the market capitalization of various digital coins, their exchange rates, etc. Market capitalization is an important metric that helps you understand the general value of a given cryptocurrency.
CoinMarketCap is a really good tool we recommend you to use regularly to be aware of what is happening on the market, which coins are on the rise and which look unhealthy.
Cryptocurrency trading: Summary
We hope, our cryptocurrency trading guide was useful for you and answered the questions related to:
- crypto exchanges and the principles of their work;
- cryptocurrency safe storing and managing;
- types of crypto wallets and the difference between them;
- cryptocurrency trading strategies.
if you have any questions left, see our Questions & Answers section below!
What Is Cryptocurrency trading: Questions and Answers
Q: Is cryptocurrency trading possible for beginners?
It is not rocket science, so you don’t really need any previous trading experience to start it. The most important thing is to get a basic understanding of how it works (by reading our guide) and follow some simple rules.
Q: Is cryptocurrency trading safe?
It depends on many factors: the exchange you have chosen, the level of risk you are ready to take, the level of your expertise, the safety measures you implement, the software you use, etc.
Most popular exchanges like Binance or Coinbase are rather secure as they invest a lot into protection and can afford an experienced cybersecurity team. Before you register on an exchange, make research: if any users lost their money because the exchange was hacked, they are likely to share this experience.
The most important rule here is not to use the money you cannot lose, as cryptocurrency is very volatile. It would be smart to learn reading the basiс types of charts because they allow you to assess the situation and predict if the price will rise or fall. Another tip would be to diversify your trading portfolio, investing in multiple coins. This strategy is more likely to be profitable in the long run, than investing in one particular coin and hanging all your hopes on it.
You can do it on special sites like Binance, Coinbase, Bitfinex, Bittrex, Exscudo, and many others. They are cryptocurrency trading platforms (exchanges), providing you all the necessary tools.
This type of trading implies that you exchange fiat for cryptocurrency or vice versa. Normally, most exchanges provide you the opportunity to trade cryptocurrencies against the most popular fiat currencies like EURO or USD. An example of crypto-to-fiat pair is BTC/USD or EON/EURO.
It means that you trade one digital against another. For instance, you buy EON with BTC. An example of crypto-to-crypto pair is BTC/ETH or BTC/XMR.
It is special software that keeps your private and public keys. You need it to store and manage your funds. You also need it to start trading cryptocurrency on an exchange.
It is an offline wallet you need for storing the bulk of your cryptocurrency. This category includes hardware and paper wallets.
It is an online wallet (like a mobile app) that allows you to easily manage your cryptocurrencies. This category includes online, desktop and mobile versions. Exchange-provided wallets are hot, too.
It is an app that allows you to manage your cryptocurrencies from an Android or iOS mobile device. It resembles a typical banking app, where you can view your balance, make and receive payments, etc.