It was only a little over a decade that bitcoin came into being, some thirty lines of code written by an pseudonymous developer called Satoshi Nakamoto. What the heck is blockchain, many people wondered, probably just another passing fad, like the internet.
In that short time, bitcoin has gone from $0 to $19,000, down to $3,300, then all the way up to $50,000. A recent report by Citibank is boldly optimistic on where bitcoin might go from here, calling it “21st century gold.”
With the kind of price action we’ve seen already, you might be tempted to think that you’ve missed the party. Yet the road for early adopters was not easy. In 2014, when bitcoin was around $500, millions of investors lost everything in the meltdown of MtGox, one of the original cryptocurrency exchanges. Then in 2019, thousands of Canadians lost their money when QuadrigaCX suddenly shut down and the founder died, taking access to nearly $170 million worth of cryptocurrency along with him.
So one might be forgiven for being cautious, especially when the learning curve continues to be daunting – crypto exchanges, brokerages, ATMS, hot wallets, cold storage, salting and hashing, and so forth. If your goal is simply to alleviate your massive FOMO, there are a few easy ways to get started.
First, there is the simplicity of crypto accounts with online financial providers such as Mogo and Wealthsimple. You sign up as you would for any basic bank account and they handle all the complexities for you – no digital wallet or crypto address required. Here you can buy and sell any fraction you wish of bitcoin or ethereum – maybe you want to throw $50 in and see what happens – it’s as simple as a quick transfer of cash.
Blame Canada? Sure, for making it as easy to invest in crypto as it is to buy a mutual fund. Canada was first to market with not one, but two, exchange-traded funds that can even be held in registered portfolios – the Purpose Bitcoin ETF and the Evolve EBIT ETF. Both hold actual bitcoin purchased with investors’ funds.
Finally, you can be ‘altcoin adjacent’, by investing in publicly traded companies that do bitcoin mining or provide blockchain support and tend to have a positive correlation with cryptocurrency prices. Examples include Riot Blockchain, Marathon Digital Holdings, Ebang International Holdings and SOS Limited.
With these methods, you won’t get access to the hundreds of trending altcoins, such as ripple or dogecoin, and you are limited to buying and selling – not transferring tokens. So you won’t be able to buy pizza (or a house) with your coins or send a few to your brother-in-law in exchange for fixing your wifi last weekend. But, with a quick glance of your account on your mobile app, you will be able to intelligently boast about the price of bitcoin like a pro at your next backyard barbecue.