Despite the price of bitcoin previously being predicted to break $10,000 at the end of 2017, it is currently worth $11,126 (November 29, 2017) after surging from $10,000 to $11,000 in less than 24 hours.
Many treasurers are understandably inquisitive about cryptocurrencies and are interested in trying out the technology often primarily out of intellectual curiosity. Some already are according to a recent GTNews interview.
But, to trade in digital currencies, you will need a platform on which to do it and an intermediary to communicate with the network. Most people lack the technical knowledge to communicate with the blockchain or to store it after purchase. This is where exchange platforms are necessary.
Coinbase is one of the most mainstream cryptocurrency exchanges due to the fact it is easy to use. The company is headquartered in California, US, and it has been in existence since 2012. Coinbase is an exchange platform to buy cryptocurrencies with fiat currencies (e.g. euros or pounds) rather than to exchange fiat currencies. While it is relatively easy to use, Coinbase charges more for currency exchanges than other platforms. For these reasons, it is a great platform to start experimenting with cryptocurrencies but more serious investors often graduate on to cheaper, more technologically advanced platforms.
Of course, you should not invest more than you can afford to lose: cryptocurrencies are highly volatile.
Here is a step by step guide on how to set up an individual account (as opposed to a business account) and buy bitcoin, ethereum or litecoin on Coinbase.
How to set up a Coinbase account
Go to https://www.coinbase.com/ and click “Sign Up” at the top right-hand corner of the page.
Select whether you are using an ‘individual’ or ‘business’ account.
Then fill in your personal details.
Click “Create Account”.
Once this has been done you will be directed to a confirmation page where you will be asked to verify your email address.
Find your verification email in your inbox. If it has not arrived, check your junk mail.
Once you have the email, click “verify email”.
This will take you through to a page where you can set up your account.
You will be asked to give a local phone number, which will be used for 2-step verification logins and transactions.
Once you enter your phone number you will receive a text message with a verification code. Enter the code on the website and phone verification is now complete.
Next, you need to connect a bank account, debit card, or credit card to your account to buy and sell cryptocurrencies with your local, fiat currency.
Using a bank account allows for higher limits ($100 per transaction or $2,500 per week), but it also takes longer to verify transactions, so you will not see money in your Coinbase wallet for two to four days depending on which bank you use.
You will be required to send in a photograph of your identification (ID) before any payment method can be connected to your account. You are only allowed to submit a passport, driver’s licence or photo ID.
Select the type of ID you chose to use. Then, select how you want to upload them. The options you will be given are ‘webcam’ and ‘mobile camera’.
Once your documents are uploaded, you will be directed to an upload page which will tell you once your identity has been verified.
Next, enter the details of your chosen payment method.
Two charges will be made to the bank account under “Pending Transactions”.
You are required to determine the last two digits of these charges.
These charges can be found on your online bank statements.
Enter the last 2 digits of each charge, and click “Verify Charge Numbers”.
Now your account should be ready to go.
On a desktop and on the mobile app you are able to track the ethereum, litecoin and bitcoin price, of all three cryptocurrencies as well as how much all of your wallets are worth at that present moment.
The image below is from the Coinbase mobile app.
Buy bitcoin, etheruem or litecoin
Click ‘Buy/Sell’ at the top of your page on a desktop or at the centre bottom of your page on the Coinbase app.
On the next page, you can select which fiat currency you want to buy in (e.g. pounds or euros) and which cryptocurrency you wish to buy.
Once you type in the desired amount you will be shown the fee that Coinbase will charge. On £20, for example, they charge 99p.
Read more on Coinbase fees here.
If you are happy with this, click ‘buy’.
Receiving bitcoin funds
Now that your Coinbase account is active, you have various ‘wallets for digital currencies where you can send and receive bitcoin, ethereum (also known as ether) or Litecoin. A wallet is essentially a bank account for cryptocurrencies.
To receive bitcoin you must provide people with your bitcoin wallet address for them to send the funds to.
To find your wallet address click on ‘BTC Wallet’ and then ‘Wallet Address’ on the right-hand side of the page if you are using a desktop.
A pop-up window as shown with a QR code and longer alpha-numeric code beneath. The alpha-numeric code is the address for your wallet.
Give this address to people sending you BTC. This is also the address you can use to have your bitcoin mining profits sent to you.
Note that your bitcoin wallet can only receive bitcoin funds, your ethereum wallet can only receive ethereum and your litecoin wallet can only receive litecoin. Each have their own individual addresses.
Send and request bitcoin funds
You can also use the ‘Send/Request’ function of the Coinbase wallet to send bitcoin or ethereum to other users via their bitcoin/ethereum wallet address as well as send requests for funds. For example, to make an online purchase, a vendor may send you a bitcoin address to send the funds to.
Select the account you want to use.
Copy the vendor’s address into the ‘Recipient’ box.
Write the amount you wish to send.
There is the chance to write an optional note.
Then click ‘Send Funds’.
Read more on the potential for treasury and cryptocurrencies here.