How To Invest in Cryptocurrencies: The Ultimate Beginners Guide
How To Invest in Cryptocurrencies Beginners Guide
Cryptocurrencies have pretty much been a topic of intense discussion over the last few years. How many times have we heard stories of people becoming overnight millionaires and, at the same time, stories of people who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars hoping to make a quick buck?
So, if you are looking to invest in crypto in a safe manner, then this guide is for you. The purpose of this guide is to help educate investors as much as possible and to reduce speculation in the market.
If you want to learn more about cryptocurrencies themselves, then you can check out our beginner courses on cryptocurrencies.
Disclaimer before continuing: We are not a financial institution: All we are proving is educational material: Do not take this information as professional investment advice.
How To Invest in Cryptocurrencies 101
The very fact that you are reading this guide shows us that you are interested in investing in cryptocurrencies. These immutable and exchangeable cryptographic token promises to become hard and non-manipulatable money for the whole world. Their advocates see a future in which Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies will substitute Euro, Dollar and so on and create the first free and hard world currency.
Besides what was already said, there are three major good reasons to invest in cryptocurrencies.
First, because you want to hedge your net-worth against the fall of the Dollar imperium, which is assumed by many people to inevitably happen at some time. Second, because you support the social vision behind cryptocurrencies – that of free and hard money for the whole world. Third, because you understand and like the technology behind it.
However, there are also very bad reasons to invest in cryptocurrencies. Many people fall victim to the hype surrounding every cryptocurrency-bubble. There is always somebody captured by FOMO (fear of missing out), buying massively in at the peak of a bubble, just in the hope to make quick money, while not understanding cryptocurrencies at all. That’s a bad reason. Don’t do this. Learn before you invest.
Early-stage investors in Bitcoin and Ethereum made millions of dollars in pure profits. If you see the following graph then you will know exactly what we mean.
In a one-year time span from December 2016 to December 2017, Bitcoin went from $750 to a staggering $20,000! This means that anybody who invested $10,000 in December 2016, would get back a mind-numbing $216,997 in exactly 365 days. In fact, the total market cap of cryptocurrencies went all the way up to an astounding $630 billion by the end of 2017.
Stories like that flooded the internet and more and more people joined the crypto hype to get a slice of that crypto pie. However, as more and more speculators flooded the market, the inevitable happened.
The market took a huge dip.
With Bitcoin taking a dip, all the other currencies took a dip, and lots of people lost their entire life savings.
In this guide, we are going to show you how you can educate yourself to make an intelligent investment. Having said that, let’s start with our first lesson.
Be Ok With Taking Calculated Risks
Because the volatility of cryptocurrencies grossly exceeds that of any other investment class, they are not a normal investment. Plus, there is always the risk that your country may outlaw cryptocurrency trading and exchange. If that’s the case, then you should make your peace with not liquidating your crypto assets.So, the important takeaway here is to only risk as much money as you can afford. Like Wence Casares, CEO of Xapo sums it up in an AMA on bitcoin.com:
“I always tell them [my family] that the second most stupid thing they could do right now is to own a number of bitcoins they cannot afford to lose and the most stupid thing they could do would be to not own any. “
Remember That There are Other Coins
Up until late 2016 Bitcoin was the cryptocurrency, and there was not much besides it. If you wanted to invest in the success of cryptocurrencies, you bought Bitcoin. Period. Other cryptocurrencies – called “Altcoins” – have just been penny stocks on shady online-markets, mostly used to keep miner’s GPUs working, pump the price and dump the coins.
However, this has changed. While Bitcoin is still the dominant cryptocurrency, in 2017 it’s a share of the whole crypto-market rapidly fell from 90 to around 40 percent, and it sits around 50% as of September 2018.
There are several reasons for that. While Bitcoin remains the undisputed king of cryptocurrencies, many people have questioned its future utility. Firstly, there were new and exciting cryptocurrencies coming out secondly, Bitcoin was suffering from severe performance issues and it looked like the Bitcoin community were nowhere near to solving this problem. The block-size issue, in particular, was a huge bone of contention in the community, which ultimately led to the creation of bitcoin cash and the splitting up of the community.
So, the question is, what coins can you potentially invest in?
Well, for that you will go to coinmarketcap.com.
This website lists down cryptocurrencies in decreasing order of marketcap. Market cap means the value of all token available. It is not a perfect metric, but likely the best we have to recognize the value of a cryptocurrency.
This is the reason why coinmarketcap is a useful tool to have in your hand.
Think About the Utility That the Coin Is Bringing Into The System
So, you have gone through the market caps and decided on the bunch of coins that you wanted to invest in? Awesome job. However, this is where the real work begins.
The first thing that you need to do is to read their whitepapers. Now, we understand that reading PDFs may not be the most exciting of things, however, you absolutely have to put in the work beforehand before you reap any sort of benefits.
Reading the whitepaper itself will give you two tremendous benefits:
- Firstly, you will be more knowledgeable about the coin itself and learn about the utility that it is bringing into the ecosystem.
- Secondly, a poorly written whitepaper is often a good sign of knowing whether a project is worth investing in or not. If the team itself can’t simply explain the true utility of their token, then it is probably not worth investing into.
A white paper is the bread and butter of any and all ICOs. According to Wikipedia.
“A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.”
In simpler terms, a white paper can tell potential investors everything they need to know about the project. This is the reason why an ICO which doesn’t have a whitepaper should simply be looked over.
Another thing that most ICOs realize is that the majority of investors simply won’t bother to read through the whitepaper. This is the reason why they simply outsource their whitepapers to cheap freelance writers who end up creating proper works of art. “Art” is being used extremely liberally here of course. Check out this gem of a whitepaper by “Arbitrage Crypto Trader”.
Here is an extract from the whitepaper:
“However, the arbitration did not die definitively. He again in favor, thanks to the appearance of cryptocurrency. All of us see that right now quotations bitkoyna on different stock exchanges differ from each other by 1-5%. And for some of the Altocums, the difference can sometimes be as high as 50%.”
It’s ok, don’t bother making sense of it.
A well-crafted whitepaper can define a generation. Just look at what Bitcoin’s whitepaper has done to this era. An ICO which doesn’t bother putting in any effort shouldn’t be given any attention.
Having said that, after you read a decently written whitepaper, there are some decisions that you will need to make.
Check #1: The Value that The Project is Bringing in
Firstly, check the project to see whether the coin is bringing in any real utility into the ecosystem. The perfect example of this is Ethereum. There is a reason why it took of so fast, think of the sheer value that it was bringing in. For the first time, developers around the world had a platform that they could use to build their own dapps on a blockchain.
Along with that, keep in mind the issues that crypto world is desperately looking to solve, mainly: privacy, scalability, and interoperability. A good way to go about your investment is to find the projects which are specifically working on solving the aforementioned problems. Here are some of the projects that are looking to solve each of the three aforementioned problems:
Check #2: Does the Project Need Tokens?
So, how do you make sure that you are getting good quality tokens?
You inspect the project and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this project need to be on the blockchain?
- Does this project need to have tokens?
If the answer for any of those happens to be “No”, then those projects don’t need a token and those projects are doing an ICO simply to raise money. There is a way to find out the true utility of the token.
For this, we will take the help of William Mougayar who points out in his Medium article that there are three tenets to token utility:
These three are locked up in a triangle and they look like this:
Each token role has its own set of features and purpose which are detailed in the following table:
Let’s examine each of the roles that a token can take up:
By taking possession of a particular token, the holder gets a certain amount of rights within the ecosystem. Eg. by having DAO coins in your possession, you could have had voting rights inside the DAO to decide which projects get funding and which don’t.
The tokens create an internal economic system within the confines of the project itself. The tokens can help the buyers and sellers trade value within the ecosystem. This helps people gain rewards upon completion of particular tasks. This creation and maintenance of individual, internal economies are one of the most important tasks of Tokens.
It can also act as a toll gateway in order for you to use certain functionalities of a particular system. Eg. in Golem, you need to have GNT (golem tokens) to gain access to the benefits of the Golem supercomputer.
The token can also enable the holders to enrich the user experience inside the confines of the particular environment. Eg. In Brave (a web browser), holders of BAT (tokens used in Brave) will get the right to enrich the customer experience by using their tokens to add advertisements or other attention-based services on the Brave platform.
It can be used as a store of value that can be used to conduct transactions both inside and outside the given ecosystem.
Helps in an equitable distribution of profits or other related financial benefits among investors in a particular project.
So, how does this all help in token utility?
If you want to maximize the amount of utility that your token can provide then you need to tick off more than one of these properties. The more properties you can tick off, the more utility and value your token brings into your ecosystem. If the role of your tokens cannot be clearly explained, or if it doesn’t really tick off more than one of the roles given above, then your token doesn’t have any utility and you can do without it.
Now, why shouldn’t you take useless tokens with little to no utility?
For that, we need to understand the concept of token velocity. Token velocity is an indication of how much people respect the value of that particular token. If people hold on to a token, then it has low velocity. However, if people quickly sell that token for BTC, ETH, or Fiat then that token has high velocity.
If you were to define Token Velocity in strictly mathematical terms, then it would look like this:
Token Velocity = Total Transactional Volume / Average Network Value.
If we were to flip the formula then:
Average Network Value = Total Transactional Volume / Token Velocity.
Now, that leads to two conclusions:
- More the token velocity, the less the average network value.
- More the transactional volume, the more the token velocity.
This is the reason why you should work for a project whose tokens actually have some utility and gives their users a reason to hold on to them.
Alright, so now that you know what kinds of coins you should invest in, we will now teach you how to look for obvious signs of scams.
Look Out For Obvious Signs of Scam
Good coins have a transparent technical vision, an active development team, and a vivid, enthusiastic community. Bad coins are transparent, promote fuzzy technical advantages without explaining how to reach them, and have a community that is mostly focused on getting rich quick. Maybe the worst kind of cryptocurrencies is the MLM coins, for example, Bitconnect. We will talk more about Bitconnect in a bit. However, what are some of the more obvious signs of scams?
#1 The Team
It really goes without saying that the success of a project is directly related to the credibility of the team. Let’s put it like this, if you are investing your money into a company, wouldn’t you want to know that the company is in good hands and that your money is going to be appreciated considerably?
Let’s look at one of the most successful projects of all time, OmiseGO. Not only do they have an incredible team, but they also count people like Vitalik Buterin and Lightning Network Creator Joseph Poon among their advisors as well. So it is no wonder that they had no trouble getting their funds and their investors are now enjoying a healthy return as well.
Now, compare that to this garbage.
Image Credit: Reddit
Take a good look at that photo of this “Incredible team”.
Yes…your eyes are not deceiving you, that’s Ryan Gosling’s photo on the team page.
Obviously, most of the time it won’t be this obvious to know whether the team is actually garbage or not. In cases like that, you should adopt a more hands-on approach.
First, search for the names of the team members on Google. Most of the time they should have a LinkedIn profile. Do a quick search and learn more about the team members. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have they been involved in any successful ICO venture before?
- Have they been involved in a well-reputed company (Google, Deloitte, etc.)?
- Have they been recommended or endorsed by well-known people?
It doesn’t matter if you come across as stalkerish. You must put in this work so that you don’t end up wasting your time and resources later.
Secondly, you should search for the images of the team members on Google. The reason for this, is again, twofold.
- Firstly, you want to make sure that you are not getting “catfished”. Meaning, they are not putting up photos of random celebrities or stock photos on their team site.
- Secondly, the person may be using the same photo on different websites and projects. So it will give you a good idea about whether the person actually exists or not and, if they do, what the is involved with.
#2 Pyramid Scheme Resemblance
According to Wikipedia, “
A pyramid scheme (commonly known as pyramid scams) is a business model that recruits members via a promise of payments or services for enrolling others into the scheme, rather than supplying investments or sale of products or services. As recruiting multiplies, recruiting becomes quickly impossible, and most members are unable to profit; as such, pyramid schemes are unsustainable and often illegal.”
An ICO that promises “guaranteed returns” on their investment is a scam. Any crypto investor worth their salt will tell you that there are no guarantees in the crypto world.
One of the most infamous examples of this is Bitconnect. Let’s take a look at their website and promises.
If you see anything like that on a website, then don’t bother taking any of their bounties. Simple as that.
You don’t want to end up with tokens like these:
#3 Inactive GitHub Repository
An active GitHub repository is a good indicator to show how seriously development has been going on in the project. Let us show you a good example of an active GitHub repository:
1,014 commits. That shows that developers are definitely giving their all to the project.
Now, compare that with Savedroid, which pulled off a stupid marketing stunt and ended up alienating all their investors.
Buying Bitcoin…Without Buying Them
While some years ago it was a real Odyssey to buy cryptocurrencies, today you have a full scope of options.
Let’s begin with buying Bitcoin. That’s the easiest part. Some people want to invest in Bitcoin without having the trouble of storing them.
They can use investment vehicles like the XBT tracker (available on Swedish and German exchanges), the Bitcoin investment trust on Second Markets (USA), the Bitcoin ETI (Gibraltar and Germany) and some more. As Bitcoin rises, more and more brokers and exchanges try to set up a Bitcoin-based financial product.
All these investment products have in common that they enable investors to bet on Bitcoin’s price without actually buying Bitcoin. While most cryptocurrency-fans think that this takes away the whole fun and sense of it, for many people it is the easiest way to invest in Bitcoin’s success. You can use the investment channels you already are used to, and if something goes wrong, you have your certificate and someone to take to the court.
Currently, no such investment product exists which covers more cryptocurrencies. But there are some in progress, both in the USA and in Europe.
Buying Cryptocurrencies: Two Kinds of Exchanges
The exchange serves as one of the most critical functions in the crypto ecosystem. It basically acts as a portal between the Fiat world and the crypto world. There are usually two types of exchanges:
- Fiat to Crypto.
- Crypto to Crypto.
Fiat to Crypto
Fiat to Crypto exchanges helps you buy Cryptocurrencies in exchange for Fiat money. Coinbase is a perfect example of this kind of exchange. Coinbase helps you buy BTC, BCH, LTC, and ETH in exchange for Fiat currency.
Crypto to Crypto
Then we have the Crypto to Crypto exchanges. These exchanges help you exchange certain cryptos like BTC, ETH, BCH etc. for other cryptocurrencies. Binance is a fine example of a crypto-to-crypto exchange.
While they do offer pretty valuable services, the problem is that they are all centralized, which makes them vulnerable. This is an extremely risky proposition when you consider the sheer amount of money that these exchanges deal with each and every single day.
When it comes to buying crypto from these exchanges themselves, it is really not that complicated.
- Firstly, you open up an account at the exchange
- You then verify your identity – this is required due to Anti-Money-Laundering rules in most jurisdictions
- Fund your account with Dollar or Euro or whatever paper money you use. On some exchanges, like Bitcoin.de, you don’t need to fund your account, but trade directly with other users.
The question, what exchange to use depends mostly on where you live. It’s always better to use an exchange physically close to you. If it is located in the same jurisdiction as you, you have the best chances to get money legally back if some bad things happen. If no exchange is located in your jurisdiction, it is better to use exchanges based in stable countries with a good legal system.
Another factor to decide which exchange you use is some coins you want to buy and your patience. If you want to acquire large sums of Bitcoins fastly, you need to use one of the major exchanges which provide enough liquidity. If you only want to buy small amounts of coins and if you are not in a hurry, you can try to buy them on small exchanges. If your order gets filled, you most likely will get better prices than on big exchanges. Check out the best crypto exchanges.
Is There A Good Time To Buy?
There is no general rule when to buy cryptocurrencies. Usually it is not a good idea to buy in at the peak of a bubble, and usually, it is also not a good idea to buy it when it is crashing. Never catch a falling knife, as the trader’s wisdom says. The best time might be when the price is stable at a relatively low level.
The art of trading is to decide when a crypto is in bubble mode and when it reached the bottom after falling. What is easy to say in retrospective is a hard question in the present, which can never be answered with absolute certainty. Sometimes a coin starts to raise, and after it passes a mark, where everybody thinks this must be the peak of a bubble, the real rally just begins.
For example, many people did not buy Bitcoin at $1,000 or Ether at $100, because it seemed to be crazily expensive. But some months later these prices appear to have been a good moment to start.
There is only two pieces of advice about timing we can give. First, don’t compare crypto bubbles with traditional financial bubbles. 10 percent up is not a bubble but can be daily volatility. 100 percent up can be a bubble, but often it is just the start of it. 1,000 percent might be a bubble usually, but there is no guarantee that it pops.
Second, take some time to watch. Don’t buy-in, because there was a dip. There might be another. And don’t buy-in, because you fear that it will explode tomorrow. Watch it, get yourself informed, buy it, when you think the timing is good. And, maybe most important: don’t be a weak hand. Don’t sell too early. Hold. The monetary revolution has just started.
How To Store Cryptocurrencies?
Alright, so you bought your cryptocurrencies, where exactly should you store them? Well first and foremost…
Keep them off the Exchange!
There is absolutely no way that you should keep your coins in an exchange. There is a long history of hacks and bankruptcies in cryptocurrency markets, most famous the hack of Mt. Gox, which sucked up hundreds of millions of customer’s Dollars.
Having said that, not all exchange wallets are risky.
For example, for people in the EU, Bitcoin.de enjoys a strong trust level. The exchange operates without loss of customer’s funds since 2011, the owners are well known in the German and European community, and an annual audit by external company checks if all coins are available. This level of trust, however, can rarely be achieved when you hold a lot of altcoins. That’s the risk you need to take.
If you really want to save your cryptos, then you should take matters into your hands and store them by yourselves. So, this is where you need to educate yourself about crypto wallets.
Hot Wallets vs Cold Wallets
Let’s understand the basic distinction between the two with a real-world example. Hot storage is like the wallets that you carry around in your pocket. The Cold storage is basically somewhat akin to your savings bank account. Keep this distinction in mind as we move forward. Basically, if you want to use your currency frequently then you must use hot storage. On the other hand, if you want to store your money for a long time then you must use cold storage.
Hot storage, in simple terms, is when you keep your cryptocurrency in a device that is directly connected to the internet. This connection is what makes a device “hot”.
You should think of exchange wallets, desktop clients, and mobile wallets (any wallet that exists on a device that will ever connect to the internet) as a hot wallet. It’s easy to access funds on a hot wallet, and if you live somewhere that accepts cryptos for micropayments, there’s nothing wrong with using one for day-to-day spending. Think of it like fiat (government-issued) currency. You might walk around with a portion of your wealth in a wallet for convenience but the majority you keep secured away. Your hot wallet should behave in the same way as a real-world wallet. You use it to carry a small amount of cash for ease of access. That is all.
While transacting with hot wallets is very simple, there is a huge drawback when it comes to them. They are easily hackable. The whole crypto-space has been gaining a lot of value recently and where there’s value, crime is never far behind. Recent ransomware attacks and previous compromises of large exchanges should be sufficient beacons to newcomers.
Even though you’ll not be storing a great deal of value on your hot wallet, it’s vital that you follow the backup steps within the restoration section of your wallet to avoid losing funds through human error. With your private key, and seed phrase intact, you should be able to restore any wallet painlessly enough.
Pros of hot storage
- Quick to access funds.
- A wide number of options, and support for different devices.
- User-friendly UIs make sending and receiving simple.
Cons of hot storage
- Exposed to cybercrime. Sophisticated hackers, ransomware, and other malicious actors are a constant threat.
- Damaging the device could destroy the wallet. Without carefully backing up private keys, and seed words you could permanently lose your cryptocurrency investment.
- You could still lose/damage/have stolen the restoration details.
Now let’s explore the different kinds of hot storage wallets that you can use.
- Online Wallets aka Cloud Wallet
- Mobile Wallets
- Desktop Wallets
- Multisig Wallets
When you keep your currency in a device that is completely offline it’s called cold storage. For those seeking the most secure form of storage, cold wallets are the way to go. These are best suited to long term holders, who don’t require access to their coins for months, or years at a time.
They aren’t without their own set of risks but if you follow the instructions correctly, and take every precaution possible, these are greatly minimized. Given the amount of attention that cryptocurrency has been receiving over the last few years, it has unfortunately piqued the interest of attackers. In light of that, it’s a far more secure option to use cold storage as a means of storing your money.
San Francisco based bitcoin wallet and exchange service CoinBase holds up 97% of its coin reserves in hardware and paper wallets. What are hardware and paper wallets? You will get to know about it in a minute. For now, let’s check out the pros and cons of cold storage:
Pros of Cold Storage:
- A great place to hold large amounts of coin for a long period of time.
- It provides a safety net against hackers and people with malicious intent since it is completely offline.
Cons of Cold Storage
- It is still susceptible to external damage, theft and general human carelessness.
- It is not ideal for quick and daily transactions.
- Setting it up can be a little intimidating for beginners.
Now that we have seen both the pros and cons let’s take a look some cold storage wallets that you can use to store your coins
Hardware wallets are physical devices where you can store your cryptocurrency. They come in a few forms but the most common is the USB stick style typified by the Nano Ledger series. Although many swear by them, hardware wallets are still prone to compromise. Firstly, you’re trusting that the company who made your wallet hasn’t logged all the private keys with a plan to raid wallets in the future. This applies to those bought from the company themselves, but particularly if a hardware wallet has been acquired second hand. Under no circumstances should anyone ever use a pre-owned hardware wallet.
Although loss or damage can spell disaster for the unprepared, hardware wallets can be restored. Therefore, it’s just as important to back up your hardware wallet, as it is your online hot wallets. You should keep restoration details in a safe place that only you, and anyone you plan to leave the money to know about. Remember, your restoration details open the wallet. Think very carefully about who (if anyone) you share them with. It’s also vitally important that you transfer all coins to a new wallet, should something unfortunate happen between you and anyone else who knows your private keys (spouse, etc.)
Here are some hardware wallets that you can use:
- Ledger Nano X.
Without a doubt, the safest way to store any cryptocurrency is by using a paper wallet. By following a few pointers below, you can set one up entirely for free. This truly makes you the master of your investment, and if precautions are followed, there’s no possibility of your private keys being known by anyone else. Of course, this means that keeping a record of them is even more important. Losing private keys means you’ll forfeit the entire contents of your paper wallet (but then again, that’s true for every wallet out there.)
What is a paper wallet?
To keep it very simple, paper wallets are an offline cold storage method of saving cryptocurrency. It includes printing out your public and private keys in a piece of paper which you then store and save in a secure place. The keys are printed in the form of QR codes which you can scan in the future for all your transactions. The reason why it is so safe is that it gives complete control to you, the user. You do not need to worry about the well-being of a piece of hardware, nor do you have to worry about hackers or any piece of malware. You just need to take care of a piece of paper.
Do you need a paper wallet?
The answer to this question will largely depend on your circumstances. If you plan to spend the summer day trading a few coins, perhaps you don’t. Alternatively, if you’re in for the long haul, and don’t intend to touch any portion of your stash, then a paper wallet is the most secure option available to you. The paper wallets that you can use are as follows:
- For Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin etc. you can use Wallet Generator.
- For Ethereum and ERC20 tokens you can use My Ethereum Wallet.
What’s with Taxes and So On?
Disclaimer: We are no tax bureau nor tax consultants. If you have issues with taxes, and if large sums are at stake, you better ask your local tax consultant.
Right now there are only a few tax consultants who know how to deal with cryptocurrencies. But it can be safely assumed that the number is growing quickly and that cryptocurrencies will soon be a standard issue for tax experts like securities, shares, ETFs and real estates are.
All we can provide here is an overview of the typical issues with cryptocurrencies and taxes.
No Free Lunch
Nothing is for sure, except death and taxes. The same goes on with cryptocurrencies. If you earn money by investing in cryptocurrencies, you likely have to pay taxes. Like it is with everything else.
How you need to tax cryptocurrency investment returns is up to your national tax jurisdiction.
The Good News …
There is some good news about the topic of cryptocurrencies and taxes. First, in nearly every country of the world cryptocurrencies are VAT exempt. Like with every financial product you don’t need to pay VAT when selling Bitcoin. There have been some ideas of tax authorities in Poland, Estonia, Germany, Australia, and Sweden to demand VAT on crypto sales, but after the European Court smashed this down in an important decision, VAT for Bitcoins seems to have become a non-topic.
Another good news is that in some jurisdictions you have to pay nearly no taxes. Amazingly Germany, a country usually known for very high tax rates, has become a tax haven for cryptocurrencies. Like the USA and many other countries, Germany considers Bitcoin not a financial product, but a property. This means that if you earn money by trading it, you don’t pay a flat tax for financial income – which is 25 percent, for example for bank account interest – but you have to tax the profit of buying and selling cryptocurrencies like income.
t’s more as you sold your house than a security.
You bought 10 Bitcoins for 1,000 Euro and sold them for 2,000? Your taxable income increased by 10,000 Euro.
You bought one bitcoin for 100 Euro and ordered a 10-Euro-pizza when the price was 1,000 Euro? Your income increased by 9 Euro. In most cases, the tax rate for this is higher than for financial gains.
However, there is a loophole. If you hold your coins for more than 1 year, you don’t need to pay taxes at all when you sell it. This rule was added to dis-incentivize day trading of other properties and stabilize prices by incentivizing holders. For cryptocurrencies it made Germany, and also the Netherlands, which apply the same rules, to tax havens. Some countries might have similar rules. In doubt, your tax advisor can help you out.
One problem the one year rule poses is that you need to prove that you hold the crypto for this timeframe. Usually, exchanges can help you with prints of your trade history. Also, you can use the public blockchain as proof of storage. In most cryptocurrencies, it is transparent when coins are received and spent by a particular address. But not in all. For example, Monero uses Ring Signatures and Confidential Transactions, which are great tools to maintain anonymity. But the downside is that they make it more or less impossible to prove that you hold coins for more than one year. Maybe you take this into account when selecting coins for your portfolio.
Conclusion: How To Invest in Cryptocurrencies
Bad News …
If you use a good exchange and keep track of your trades, taxing Bitcoin is possible, but also a pain in the ass. You need to calculate every single profit, not just from trading, but also from using Bitcoins to pay for things.
But that’s just the beginning. Things become really a complicated nightmare if it comes to Altcoins. For the tax authorities, an Altcoin counts like Bitcoin. In most countries, this means it is not a financial product, but a property. If you buy it with Bitcoin and sell it for Bitcoin, you have to tax the difference, but not in Bitcoin, but in Dollar or your national paper money. This means, you not only need to keep track of all your Altcoin trades, but you also need to take into account the price of Bitcoin when buying and selling.
Obviously, this makes things extremely complicated. You can have a bad trade, resulting in getting less Bitcoin back than you invested, but being still, in theory, accountable to taxes, when the price of Bitcoin did soar between your trades. So you lost money in trading but have to pay taxes for it.
At this moment you should accept the fact that cryptocurrencies are something new and that you are no expert in dealing with your financial authorities. Go for a tax consultant, educate her or him about cryptocurrencies and look forward to talking with confused financial authority officials.
And enjoy investing in cryptocurrencies.
1) Q: What are cryptocurrencies?
2) Q: Where can you buy cryptocurrencies?
3) Q: How do you store cryptocurrencies?
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