After publishing my Bitcoin NZ guide I’ve been getting few emails about Ethereum as well.
Luckily, buying Ethereum and Bitcoin in NZ is quite similar. You can use the same exchanges and methods, but I’ll break the whole process down here for those of you who need a little guidance. I’ve been investing in Ethereum in NZ regularly now for quite some time and will show you exactly how to do that below.
What is Ethereum, exactly?
Ethereum is a digital currency, much like Bitcoin.
However, there are some key differences. Let me try and explain it as simply as possible.
Ethereum, like Bitcoin, runs on blockchain technology. However, the scope and possibilities of each is different.
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency, mostly used for investment and actually purchasing goods and services. It’s purpose therfore, is that of a decentralised currency. The Ethereum blockchain is different. It allows the development of decentralised applications.
When you mine on the Bitcoin blockchain, you are rewarded with Bitcoins. When you mine on the Ethereum blockchain, you get Ether. Bitcoin is the coin that allows you to send Bitcoin transactions on the Bitcoin network. In the same way, Ether is the coin or token that allows you to use the Ethereum network.
Here’s a short example to help you think about this in practical terms: Imagine Apple (yeah, the iPhone company) is sick of all these foreign exchange issues. It wants to just accept one currency. What it could do is build an ecosystem on the Ethereum blockchain to process all its transactions. It would create a token, let’s call it the Apple coin.
Now, much like how people exchange money for Bitcoin and use Bitcoin to buy stuff, they could exchange their money for Apple coins, and use that to buy stuff on the Apple store.
Apple could even start requiring that people purchase things with Apple coins, or they could incentivise it by saying that all Apple products have a 10% discount if paid for with Apple coins. The result would be: Apple now has its own currency, and doesn’t need to rely on USD or Euro or any other government issued currency. It wouldn’t even need a bank account, as it would all run on the Ethereum blockchain. It would be in control of its entire economy. Some people might even start using Apple coins for other things. Maybe you owe somebody $100, and he says, “You know what? Just give me 3 Apple coins.”
While Ethereum is relatively new, we can already see this happening – for example, Flixxo is a platform like Youtube, but creators and viewers are paid in FLIXX tokens. Steemit is a site exactly like reddit, except posters are paid for their content in STEEM tokens. There are hundreds of examples like this already out there today. If you’re wondering why anyone would want tokens like these, it’s because the tokens are real money. Anyone can easily take their STEEM or FLIXX tokens out of the ecosystem and change them into Bitcoin or USD using an exchange, no different to how you can change your USD to NZD at any currency exchange on Queen Street.
Ethereum has also gained some corporate support, and many big names have jumped on to support it into mainstream commerce. Some of them include Toyota, Samsung, Microsoft, Intel, J.P. Morgan, Merck, Deloitte, Accenture, Banco Santander, and several others. If you Google the news on Ethereum, new partnerships and support is being built by the day. Pretty exciting.
Why would you want to own Ethereum?
You might be thinking, if all these big companies like Apple can just make their own apps and digital tokens, why would I want to own Ether? Wouldn’t I be better off to wait for Apple to release its Apple coins and invest in that instead?
Well, yes you could do that. But if these other companies start building apps on the Ethereum blockchain, your Ether tokens will actually become more valuable, not less.
This is because the main purpose of Ether tokens is to power the Ethereum network. That means if Apple built a system on the Ethereum blockchain, it would still need to use Ether tokens to power it. Each transaction, or smart contract, would need to be paid for with Ether. Therefore, as long as the Ethereum blockchain is around, your Ether tokens will have purpose and therefore value. And the more companies that decide to build on Ethereum, the more valuable your tokens become. This is what makes it a smart investment.
Side note: If my example above happened in real life, what is more likely is Apple will spend a few billion dollars and build their own blockchain, rather than use Ethereum. But for the millions of smaller companies in the world, such as Trademe or The Warehouse, building their own blockchain would be pointless. It would be like Trademe spending millions to build their own Windows or Android. Ready-made platforms, like Ethereum, is going to be the logical choice for 99% of businesses.
What’s the best exchange to buy Ethereum in NZ?
There aren’t many exchanges in New Zealand that currently deal in Ethereum, and none that I’m willing to recommend to you. The exchange I have been using is actually based in Australia. It’s not perfect, and there’s still a few hoops you might need to jump through, but it’s the best exchange I know of at this time. They allow NZ investors and you can invest in NZD. All my Ethereum purchases have been done through them. That exchange is:
Independent Reserve is an Australian based exchange which allows Bitcoin and Ethereum trading in AUD, NZD and USD.
The thing I like about Independent Reserve is the user experience is great. It is super easy to buy and sell your Ethereum, and if you wish to transfer your Ethereum out to a private wallet that is pretty seamless too (we’ll get into wallets later).
You can deposit NZD straight into your Independent Reserve account from your online banking, and it usually shows up within a day or two. If you want to buy Ethereum in NZ, this is the first exchange I recommend.
How to get set up on Independent Reserve
Simply head the Independent Reserve homepage and click the “Create Account” button in the top right hand corner. You’ll get shown a standard signup box like this:
Complete that form and you’re in – you’ve got a trading account.
The first thing Independent Reserve will do is take you to your account details. By law, Independent Reserve needs to collect some personal info from you, such as your name, address, DOB etc. It’s all pretty straightforward:
Then you’ll need to enter an email address and confirm it. Again all very straightforward.
The last thing you need to do is verify your identity. You should see a big blue box at the top of the page:
Click the blue button and you’ll get taken to a verification page. This is the most arduous part of setting up your account but in reality should only take you five minutes. You’ll need to upload a picture of you with your ID, and some personal details like your full name and address.
Get your passport or drivers license and snap a picture of yourself holding it up under your face. I just used the webcam on my laptop and it worked fine. You’ll also need a copy of a bank statement showing your address. I just went and downloaded a PDF bank statement from my internet banking and uploaded that. Once you’ve uploaded those two documents you can send them through. Independent Reserve should verify you within a few hours.
Once you’ve been verified, you can start investing!
Now – I should say something here. I know this whole set up process can be dragging and a lot of people just turn off here and forget about the idea of investing altogether. Don’t do this. That’s what I did when I first thought about investing in Bitcoin a few years back when Bitcoin was only a few hundred dollars. Obviously I kick myself all the time for doing that. I’d be putting a down payment on a new house today if I’d put my money in back then…
If you’re interested in investing in Ethereum, take care of this now. It will literally take you about twenty minutes to set your account up. Then you’re in.
Deposit money into your Independent Reserve Account
First, you’ll need to deposit some cash (obviously). You can do this in the accounts section. Simply click the “Accounts” button at the top of the page and you’ll get taken to a screen like this:
Go to NZD and click “deposit”. There you will get given a screen where you can set up a deposit. You will need to go back to your internet banking and send the money via SWIFT transfer. This may incur a fee, it’s usually around $15-$20. Note that Independent Reserve will also charge you a $15 fee for any deposits under $5,000. Unfortunately this is just the way it is for us Kiwis, our options are limited. If we want nice things we have to pay for them! However, like I said earlier, the better price you’re going to get on your Bitcoin will more than pay for these small fees in the long run.
As a side note, all deposits from Australian banks are free, so if by any chance you have an Australian bank account you should definitely use that instead!
If you need to move money between your Australian and New Zealand bank accounts, I’d recommend using Transferwise. They do it for super cheap and will give you the true exchange rate. I use it all the time to send money overseas and it’s seamless. Awesome service. You can also get your first transfer free using this link.
Update 2018: Independent Reserve can no longer accept NZD deposits from ANZ, Kiwibank and Westpac. This is unfortunate, but has become increasingly common. A lot of banks (worldwide, not just NZ) have been stonewalling people from exchanging national currencies into cryptocurrency. They haven’t really given a reason for this, but it’s not hard to guess why. My advice is simple: Change banks. If a bank can’t offer you a simple, legal, bank transfer then they don’t deserve your business. In five years I have no doubt buying Ethereum will be as easy as clicking one or two buttons. For now, if you want to be an early adopter, you just need to jump through the hoops.
How to make your first Ethereum investment on Independent Reserve
Once your deposit clears, you’re ready to make your first investment. Head to the trading section by clicking “Trade” at the top of the page. You’ll get taken to a page like this:
Let me explain this screen to you a little bit.
You can see two buy options. There is Buy (Market), and there is Buy (Limit). The same options are there for selling, but let’s not worry about the sell options for now.
When you choose to buy at market, that means you’re taking the current market price. For example, if the current market price is $1,000 per Ether coin, that’s the price you will pay.
Now let’s look at an example of buying Ether at market.
Looking at the above screenshot, you can see I’ve selected to buy at market. That’s the big purple square in the top left that says “Buy (Market)”.
On the far right you can see a list of sellers with coins on the market. They cheapest seller is $516.11 per Ether token – that is considered the market price.
In the order box (highlighted with the red square) you’ll see I’ve entered an order to buy 0.2 Ethereum at market price, which will be $103.22. Independent Reserve charges half a percent brokerage, which comes to 51 cents, which means the total to pay is $103.73.
Since we’re buying at market price, we don’t have to wait. Simply proceed with the order and it will execute right away. You’ll have your Ether deposited into your account in a few seconds.
Congrats! You’re the proud owner of Ethereum.
Now let’s see what a Limit Buy looks like.
With a Limit Buy, basically we are saying the market price is too expensive right now, but if the market price reaches $X (i.e. our limit price), we would like to buy. So let’s say we don’t want to buy Ethereum at $500, but we’d be happy to buy it at $450. Here’s what we do.
Click on Buy (Limit). Enter your limit price as $450. Enter how much Ethereum you would like. In this example we’ll stick with 0.2 Ether. Your order should look like this:
In the screenshot above, you can see that we’ve asked to buy 0.2 Ether at a limit price of $450. That works out to be $90, plus brokerage of 45 cents, giving us a total of $90.45.
Simply submit the order and wait. If the market hits that price, your order will execute. Once that happens, you’ll get an email from Independent Reserve saying your trade was successful.
And that’s really it! You know everything you need to know to start buying Ethereum.
Ready to start buying Ethereum in NZ? You can register for an Independent Reserve account here.
Of course there may be other options to buy Ethereum in NZ. After lengthy research I couldn’t really find another one I was happy with. Therefore, while other options may be good as well, Independent Reserve is the one I have tested and recommend, and am still using myself today.
How do you keep your Ether safe?
You need to remember that digital currency isn’t like other currency. It’s not protected by banking laws or anything like that. That means you are responsible for the security of your coins.
The first thing you should do is set up 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) on whichever exchange you’re using.
What this means is, whenever you log into your accounts you will need to enter two passwords. One will be the password you’ve set on your account, and the other will be a random code from an authenticator app on your phone. This means even if someone is able to find out your password, they’ll still need to physically have access to your cellphone to get in.
To activate 2FA, you will need to download the Google Authenticator app on your phone. This app generates a new 6 digit code every 30 seconds that you’ll need to enter when you login. It’s perfect for Bitcoin accounts.
To set up 2FA on Independent Reserve, simply click “Settings” at the top of the screen. Then scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page. You’ll find the 2FA settings here:
Click on the “change” option for Google Authenticator, and you’ll get shown a scan code. Obviously I can’t show you my details for security purposes, but it’s very easy to do. Just open the Google Authenticator app on your phone, scan the code and follow the instructions.
You should also set up the Primary and Secondary telephone numbers. The Primary number can just be your personal cellphone. The Secondary can be the number of a parent or friend or anyone else you trust.
That means even if your cellphone gets stolen, you’ll still have a way to get into your account and recover your coins.
The above steps may seem overboard but I assure you, they are not. Cryptocurrency exchanges get hacked all the time and if you haven’t got the right security measures in place you are at risk of losing your coins. Remember, digital currencies are autonomous and decentralised. It’s not like regular New Zealand dollars, where someone steals your ASB Visa card and you just call the bank and tell them to reverse all the transactions. Once your Ethereum or Bitcoin is gone, it’s gone. Be responsible!
What’s the best way to store Ethereum in New Zealand?
Getting your Ether tokens is the first hump, but what about storage?
99% of the time, leaving your coins on an exchange will be okay. Even I leave some coins on exchanges and it’s not a big deal.
However, there are risks to this. What happens if your exchange suddenly disappears the next day? While unlikely, it can and does happen. Bitcoin enthusiasts will often talk of the notorious Mt Gox hack, where the biggest exchange in the world was hacked and millions of Bitcoins were lost.
Therefore, if you’re serious about your crypto investment and you plan on holding it for the long term, I would suggest using a wallet.
A wallet is basically a storage system for your cryptocurrencies. It contains two keys: one public and one private.
The public key is what you give to someone so they can send you cryptocurrency. If you sold a donkey for Bitcoin, you would give the buyer your public key, and he would pay you by sending Bitcoin to that address. Think of it like your Bitcoin bank account number. It is the same with Ether and other digital currencies.
The private key is something you keep secret. Think of it like your internet banking password. The private key is what allows you to send coins from your wallet to somebody else. Never share your private key with anyone, ever.
Now, as for the wallets themselves. There are two main types of wallet. There are hardware wallets and software wallets.
Software wallets are free and are generated on your computer or mobile phone. Think of a software wallet like the wallet you carry around in your pocket each day. It’s good for storing a little bit of cash, but not for thousands and thousands of dollars. It’s the same for Ether and other cryptocurrencies. If you’re planning on sending and receiving coins regularly, a software wallet can be a good choice.
A hardware wallet is more like a safe in your basement. It’s a physical device (looks like a USB drive) that you can keep in your house and is used to store large amounts of digital currency. Some people even lock their hardware wallets in an actual safe or a bank safety deposit box.
What’s the difference?
The usual concern with a software wallet is the private key is generated on a computer or phone and therefore can never really be considered 1,000% safe. Obviously it depends on how clean your computer is, and if you generated it offline etc etc. Remember, if someone has your private key, they have full access to your coins. That means if it gets into the wrong hands, your coins are gone. It is rare that a soft wallet gets hacked, but it still happens.
A hardware wallet is considered much safer because the private key is generated completely offline and never even touches the internet. That’s why it’s always recommended to store large amounts of Bitcoin, Ether and any other cryptocurrency on a hardware wallet.
If you only have a few hundred bucks invested then a software wallet should be fine. However, if you have tens of thousands of dollars invested, you probably want to invest in a hardware wallet.
What do I use?
I do not currently use a software wallet. I store some of my coins, both Bitcoin and Ether, on a hardware wallet, and have a small amount of coins stored on Independent Reserve in case I want to sell some.
The hardware wallet I use is the Ledger Nano S.
It’s one of the most highly recommended in the community and is super easy to use. It allows you to store Bitcoin, Ethereum, any ERC20 token (tokens built on Ethereum), and about 10 other major cryptocurrencies. You can grab one here.
As I said I don’t use a software wallet, but if you are interested in one, the best one is definitely My Ether Wallet.
Other tips for investing in Ethereum in NZ
It’s not really my place here to give investment advice. How much you invest in Ethereum is totally up to you and needs to be a personal decision based on your risk profile and goals. I cannot decide that for you.
What I will say is, read and research. Understand the technology the best you can, so when it comes time to make investment decisions, such as whether to sell when the price is surging (or tumbling) you will be able to make the best decision possible.
Here are a few articles to get you started:
First, the Ethereum Homepage has a comprehensive document that should answer any of your questions.
The official Ethereum white paper can be found here.
Digital trends had a good summary here.
Other than that, Google is your friend.
Have fun and good luck!
For advanced investors: If you’re interested in investing in other altcoins, such as Dash, Ripple, Monero, Litecoin, NEO and so on, you will need to use a larger, international exchange. I am currently using Binance and recommend them. They are lightning quick and super liquid – one of the biggest exchanges out there, plus the verification requirements are minimal. You can sign up for an account here.
Your first step will be to buy some Ether on Independent Reserve (you can also do it with Bitcoin, but I prefer Ether as it’s faster and has lower fees). Then you’ll need to send your Ether to Binance using the ETH wallet address they give you. Once you receive it in Binance, you’ll be able to start trading.
As far as I know of today, this is the best option for us to invest in the wider cryptocurrency market; there are no reputable international exchanges that allow fiat deposits of NZD.
Questions? Leave ’em below. I’ll answer them the best I can!