Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.
Ether is a necessary element- a fuel- for operating the distributed application platform Ethereum.
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Note: Images can be clicked to see a larger version. If you're confused by any terms used, a glossary can be found here.
This guide previously advised using myetherwallet.com as the wallet option for storing Ethereum coins.
However as crypto has become more popular security has become a pressing issue, and using MyEtherWallet alone just isn't secure enough.
So in this authors personal opinion your coins will be safest stored on the exchange you purchase them or, ideally, on a hardware wallet. Here's why:
If you get a hardware wallet, once it's set up you will be given the option to create a Ethereum wallet. Do so, and you'll be given a personal wallet address, which consists of a long string of letters and numbers.
Copy this address and keep it somewhere safe.
Choose which Ethereum exchange you'd like to use (by clicking on the logo), and the guide will continue:
If you use this link to sign up to Coinbase we'll both receive ten dollars of free coins when you spend over $100 (or the equivalent in your currency).
Press the 'sign up' button and fill out your name (make sure this is exactly how it's written on your photo ID), email and a password.
Just like a US bank, Coinbase is regulated by the US government, and has to follow strict financial rules. So they take verifying your identity very seriously. It's a pain, but it does give Coinbase a reputation for being the most trusted way to convert fiat currency to cryptocurrency.
To verify your account you must supply a phone number, upload an image of your photo ID and verify a credit/debit card or bank account before you can buy.
Using a credit/debit card on Coinbase means higher fees but offers instant purchasing. Using a bank transfer is cheaper but slower (taking up to a week to get your coins).
Once your payment details are verified, click 'buy/sell' on the top menu.
Select 'Ethereum', and at the bottom of the page choose how much to spend in your local currency / how many coins you want to buy.
Once you're happy with the amount, click the big 'Buy' button.
You'll be asked to confirm your purchase.
Press the 'Confirm Buy' button.
Congratulations! You now own some Ethereum.
Click here to go to Coinmama.
In the sign up form, enter your email address and first and last name (make sure these are exactly the same as on your photo ID).
Enter a strong password (that you won't forget!).
Select your country, tick the box to show you understand their terms and conditions and press 'Register'.
You will be sent an email to confirm your email address.
Go find that email and click the link in it.
You will be informed that your email is now confirmed. Press 'Continue'.
You will be prompted to log in. Enter your email and password and press 'Login'.
You won't be able to buy any Ethereum until you verify your account.
In the left-hand menu, click 'Verify your account'.
You will be asked to fill in your personal details. Once you have, press 'Next'.
Here you need to upload some pictures of your ID.
You're also asked to take a selfie of yourself holding your ID, as well as writing 'Coinmama' on a piece of paper with today's date.
Make sure none of these pictures are blurry, or they will be rejected.
Once you've uploaded the files you'll be informed your documents are under review- unfortunately you'll have to wait until you're verified to continue your purchase.
Click here to go to Cex.io
Click the 'Register' button along the top menu.
Enter your email address and a secure password. Click the checkbox to agree to the terms.
You will now be asked to set up 2-factor authentication for your new account. It is strongly advised not to skip this step, as 2-factor authentication makes your account far more secure.
We recommend using the 'Smartphone App' option.
Once your security has been set up, you'll be taken to your account dashboard.
Before we do anything else, head on over to your personal email account- there will be an email from Cex.io asking you to click a link to verify your account. Click it.
You will be taken to a page telling you your email has been confirmed. Click 'Go back to the site'.
Look for your user ID in the top menu, hover your mouse over it and in the drop down menu click 'Verification'.
Every exchange that lets your buy cryptocurrencies for cash require you to verify your identification before doing so.
Complete the Cex.io verification process by supplying your personal information and uploading your ID.
Once you're verified, click the 'Deposit' button along the top menu.
You now get to choose how you'd like to deposit money:
Via credit/debit card
If you choose credit/debit card you can buy instantly, but you pay commission on the money you deposit.
Via bank transfer
This option takes a few days for the transfer to arrive but has no commission fees.
Choose the method you prefer and follow the instructions to deposit your money.
Once your money is in your account, click 'BUY/SELL' on the top menu.
Choose '' and the currency you'd like to buy it in (Dollars, Euros, Pounds or Rubles).
You will be offered some precalculated amounts of Ethereum, or you can scroll to the bottom of the page and input the amount of Ethereum you'd like to buy in the 'Custom amount' box.
Once you've decided, click 'Buy'.
You'll be asked to confirm your buy.
Check everything looks correct and click 'Confirm the order'.
Congratulations- you now own some Ethereum!
Click 'Accounts' from the top menu, then find your Ethereum wallet listed on the left.
In the 'Recipient' box, paste your personal wallet address we saved earlier from your wallet in step 2.
In amount, type how much Ethereum you wish to send (there is a 'use max' option if you wish to send it all).
Coinbase may ask you to confirm with your password/phone. Follow the instructions until it confirms the Ethereum are sent.
Go back to Cex.io
Press 'Withdraw' on the top menu.
Under 'Select currency and amount' click 'USD' and select '' in the drop down menu.
Input the amount of Ethereum you're sending.
In the box labelled 'Enter the recipient's address below' paste the Ethereum wallet address we saved earlier from MyEtherWallet in step 2.
Once you've looked everything over, click the check box to confirm you've double checked everything is correct.
You will be asked for a 2-factor authentication number.
Use your selected method of authentication to generate the number and write it in the box. Press 'Confirm'.
You will be sent an email to confirm the withdrawal.
Go to your personal email and click the link Cex.io has sent you. This will send the coins on their way.
After a few minutes you should now see the Ethereum in your wallet.
Note that the amount may be slightly less than what you were told you were getting as exchanges deduct a small amount of coin to pay for the transfer.
While you're waiting, consider sharing this guide with your friends and followers to spread the word about Ethereum, encouraging its popularity and value to grow.
Here's some share buttons for Facebook and Twitter to make it easy: