Sunday, August 6, 2017

GMGH's Crypto Toolkit v1.0

Dear all,

With cryptos becoming more and more popular (I'm seeing even more and more sheep joining the herd, marching towards the slaughterhouse shouting "MOON MOON"), I thought that perhaps it would be of interest to some people to know what tools I use and if maybe they could be of use to you.

Since this is v1.0 and there are plenty of old tools being discontinued, and new tools and websites popping up, this might not be the most cutting edge list of tools out there. I have to emphasize that although I use all these tools myself, I am not perfect and right, so you also need to do your own due diligence when using these things!!!

Okay, let's get started!

1. Password Manager

Are you surprised that this is the first thing on the list? You shouldn't be, especially if you have made a few wallets and accounts. Every wallet has a public and private key which you need to know, and some wallets have a mnemonic phrase.

A password manager is infinitely useful for safely storing all this information. I use Dashlane (my referral link for 6 months free premium) to store all my login credentials to all the different exchanges and websites that I visit. I also use it to store all my keys and backup phrases.

Coinhako. Coinbase. Bittrex. Poloniex. Wallet 1. Wallet 2. Wallet 3. Etc, etc. You get the picture.

You don't have to use Dashlane if you don't want to. I use it because after much research and reviewing, I have determined that it was the best one at that point of time, and since then I have had only great things to say about it. You can use LastPass, 1Password, or even locally stored programmes like Keepass, which stores and encrypts your password databases directly on your computer or thumbdrive.


You can use Excel, Word or even Notepad, but I personally strongly recommend against doing that.

The benefit of having a cloud-based password manager is that your data is by default backed-up and accessible without your specific hardware. This means that if your house burns down along with your computer, safe and thumbdrive, you can still log-in via the web client, or even better yet (and more secure), you can download the programme onto a new trusted device and get back access to all your accounts and passwords. All your coins, safe and sound.

There is a reason why this is the first and probably the most stressed about tool. YOU NEED IT. If there's only one thing to take away from this entire post is that a password manager is essential in this day and age where we have hundreds of online accounts, and each password SHOULD be different, but yet we are somehow supposed to remember each and every one of them? Just like how handphones have removed the need to remember phone numbers, password managers have removed the need to remember passwords.

2. Wallets

Now that you've got a safe place to store your wallet keys, let's talk about wallets. I think Jackson Palmer (creator of Dogecoin) nailed it with this episode, but I think the order is a bit mixed.



Personally, I use a variety of wallets.

Exchange wallets are a definite no-go for anything more than just trading in and out, followed by sweeping it clean. OG clients require an every growing amount of space, so I don't really like it.

*NOTE* If you have stored your private keys and recovery phrase into your password manager, technically your account is not as secure compared to private key only being found on the paper wallet or hardware wallet. Private keys getting leaked out are the BIGGEST risk and you should be extremely aware of what method you choose and why. If you have a hardware wallet, I'd suggest keeping a backup of the recovery seeds it in case you lose or break your hardware wallet so the funds can be recovered by key regeneration. Also never ever digitally key in or record your private key else unless you are burning that account and migrating away to a new one.

Personally, between 1, 1.5 and 2, I don't see much difference for the security of the user. However, it is definitely better to have a full node and not rely on other nodes. However, that is with regards to security of making transactions, NOT with the security of your funds. This is a very important distinction. Not being connected to a full node does not increase your risks of your funds being stolen. The certainty that you can broadcast transactions and verify blocks yourself comes at the cost of having the entire blockchain on your harddrive, and constantly growing.

While paper wallets are great, I find them a major, major inconvenience. A better way to use paper wallets is to pair it up with a watch-only wallet (also applicable to hardware wallets!). This means you don't have to dig out your paper wallet to receive coins, you can fire up your watch-only wallet to generate your public key to receive funds. However, you do have to dig out the paper wallet if you ever want to send coins out though. As such, it's best to think of paper wallets like a piggy bank. Easy to deposit into, but troublesome to get the money out.

BTC watch-only wallet: Sentinel
ETH watch-only wallet: Lunary

I don't think I can go wrong by saying that I think hardware wallets are superior to paper wallets, though there are specific cases when a paper wallet would actually be pretty good.

3. Fiat-Crypto Exchange

In Singapore, the most commonly used exchange is probably CoinHako. I have a referral link, but meh, I personally think Hako is shit and I have a conscience, so sorry, no free $5 through signing up from me. You may ask your friends who also have no fiduciary obligation to you to recommend you to Hako. The margins and spreads are fat AF (I've seen conversion rates with premiums as high as 9%) and their exchange fee is a freaking 0.9%, lol. Actually instead of lol, it is more WTF. As much as I think Hako is pretty shit, I have to admit that they do offer a simple, easy-to-fund, easy-to-use platform with pretty decent support. It's a beginner's platform where they pretty much hold your hands the whole way. I guess that's what you're paying for? Expect final SGD cost over USD spot rates to be as high as 10%.

The next most common platform is Coinbase, which has actually been around for a while and it is also one of the biggest retail consumer exchanges. I use Coinbase because I find their rates very similar to the market, although their fees are high and flat. On the bright side, fees can be mitigated because they do allow you to charge purchases on your credit card. In my experience, the all-in fees ends up to be about 4.5%, so it depends on how you want to shuffle around your credit card purchases and which card you want to charge it to. I think it's a pretty good way to chalk up spending on your credit cards, especially if the bonus interest applied on your bank balance would more than offset the fees of Coinbase. Expect final SGD cost over USD spot rates to be as high as 4.5%, though credit card promos and rebates can drop that significantly HINT HINT.

Personally, I use the DBS/POSB + Gemini combination. It sounds complicated, but it really isn't. You just use SGD to remit USD to your Gemini account. Tadah. Done. The only fees in this equation is the SGD-USD conversion rate which I've calculate to be about 0.65%, and the exchange fee at Gemini for 0.25%. For a no-bullshit experience with this combo, you can expect a very good and reliable exchange with final SGD cost over USD spot rates to be just under 1%.

If you are going to buy buying large amounts of crypto on a regular basis, it's a no-brainer which option you should choose. I currently use DBS/POSB + Gemini for my bulk purchases and Coinbase for my impulse purchases. Please do your own diligence for these exchanges. These are just what I use, and as you know, the biggest risk and easiest point of failure (other than yourself) would be the exchanges.

Other known fiat-crypto exchanges are Kraken (I have an account but I do not use it) and Quoine (I have NOT used before, but I know they have SGD pairs. There seems to be no market depth though).

4. Crypto-Crypto Exchanges

This is probably the big question everyone wants to know about, eh? Especially since buying just plain ol' BTC and ETH is so boring and passe.

The main exchange that I use for changing cryptos is Bittrex. I feel that Bittrex offers plenty of pairs and has a very simple and non-confusing user interface. Withdrawals and deposits have always been smooth for me and I've not experienced any issues. They handled the BTC/BCC forking fiasco perfectly as well, so in my view, they are the best exchange out there.

My next most used exchange is Changelly (yes, I have an affiliate link there) and I use it to change crypto when the amount is either small, or if speed is a factor. Changelly is similar to the more popular Shapeshift (no registration needed exchange), but Changelly has more pairs, lower fees, better rates and more uptime. No registration is the real shining plus point here, so for those people who came into crypto because of privacy concerns, this point ought to win you over. Just as a casual mention, Moneroj is a supported coin on Changelly.

As much as I like Shapeshift (and their innovations like Prism), I find Shapeshift to be rather unreliable with rates always worse than Changelly... if you can get them to quote you. It doesn't bring much user confidence that half the time I can't even get them to quote me a rate. However, still a pretty decent option. It's okay to have a Plan C even if you already have Plan A and Plan B.

5. Portfolio tracking Spreadsheet

This can be done in a variety of ways, but I imagine most people will settle for the plain ol' Excel or a Google Spreadsheet. Personally, I use the Google Spreadsheet option because I can access it on multiple devices.

While prices can be linked, I personally prefer my spreadsheet to be completely static with only inputs from me, and formulas that I create.

I have 2 main spreadsheets:
- SGD to crypto purchases (capital cost)
- Summary of all cryptos (market value)

Essentially, the main thing that I am concerned about is what is the value of my portfolio compared to the capital I invested. Having the first spreadsheet allow me to know when, where and what crypto I bought and at what rate (capital) and the next spreadsheet allows me to find out what is the market price of the cryptos that I am holding (market value).

This document isn't really top secret, because there is no need for you to put down your account information. Even if this document is leaked, your accounts are not compromised as long as you never wrote down your private keys. That said, if you understand how blockchain works, with your balances, people would be able to search for your account on the blockchain and would be able to link that public address to your own person. It is generally never a good idea to let people know your holdings.

6. Crypto prices

This is a split between coinmarketcap.com and coincap.io.

Coincap.io seems to have a more accurate price. The prices are also periodically refreshed on the page, so you don't need to constantly refresh the page to get the latest prices. It also has the 24 Hour VWAP, which is a nice little metric if you know how to use it.

Coinmarketcap has it's own benefits too, and the main one is definitely the price graph chart. I love seeing the small 7 day price performance chart that it provides, and it takes but a glance to figure out how the market has been doing lately. Coinmarketcap also allows you to go deeper in each crypto and see bigger chart, but most importantly, to see the exchanges that the crypto is listed on and the last price and volume at those exchanges.

7. Misc

This is just a collection of stuff which I think could be useful.

Bitcoin Checker (Android widget app for live prices)
Blockfolio (App to check prices, can insert portfolio)
Cryptowat.ch (Best web charts INCLUDING MARKET DEPTH for the major cryptos)
Ether Gas Station (Best way to find out current Gas prices for ETH transactions)
Bitcoinfees.21.co (Best way to find out about BTC Tx prices)

Conclusion

Honestly, cryptos are in their very early stages. Yes, STILL. There are no guide books and no one is going to hold your hand and walk you through the entire process. While the whole scene may be overhyped as of now (and I do think it is), I am sure that the market has much much much more to grow over the coming years.

If you're dipping your toes into cryptos, please stay safe and be secure.

There are no laws, no rules, no police and above all, nobody that cares about you in the crypto world.

Stay safe out there. It really is the wild wild west.

If you don't know what you're doing, I strongly strongly recommend for you to NOT get involved.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Thanks for the reference links! ;)

    ReplyDelete

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