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How to Buy AirSwap (AST): Quick Guide
DISCLAIMER: None of the following is intended to be investment advice. This is only meant to be a description of what has worked well for me so far, and my own opinions. Also, full disclosure, my links to Coinbase, Binance, KuCoin etc., include referrals. It actually benefits you to use them because we will both get an extra $10 worth of BTC for free if you deposit at least $100 to Coinbase. Thanks in advance if you follow the links when you make your accounts - and even if you don’t, I hope this guide helps you out!
This guide will teach you how to buy AST from square one (i.e., all you have is fiat money, no cryptos). It will also work for most other cryptocurrencies, but as I’m interested in AST right now, I am going to write a quick foreword about it and then we’ll get right into the meat of the guide.
A Little About AST - Why Buy?
There is a massive subset of people who are new to the crypto-space entirely but have only heard of Bitcoin. Then they go online and they search around and figure out there are actually many, many cryptocurrencies out there with many different use cases. Before I get into AST’s use cases, I’d like to say that this review is dedicated to my very first Patreon subscriber who requested that I look into this token. I’d name him, but I’m not sure if he wants me to - so for now, I’ll just say “thank you” for his support!
So, what is AirSwap all about? Actually, I’m pretty grateful that this coin was pointed out to me, as this is a very exciting coin. This coin is focused on eliminating the problems that centralized exchanges create. Branding itself as “the engine of the new token economy,” AirSwap hopes to facilitate the creation of a fee-less decentralized exchange. Instead of using the traditional concept of blockchain order books, it does this via a peer-to-peer protocol where negotiation for trades happens off-chain, but actual trading of tokens is settled on-chain. Sounds like a mouthful of buzzwords, right? Don’t worry - we’ll get into the essentials of why AST is useful without wading through too much more jargon.
There are a lot of reasons why I believe decentralized exchanges are going to be big in the future. Centralized exchanges are generally websites where you buy and sell cryptocurrencies - you’ll be using two of them (Coinbase and Binance) today. Because they are “centralized” - i.e., owned and operated by a small group of people - there are many potential issues with exchanges. If an exchange is unreliable or untrustworthy, you’re literally risking your money every time you try to use it to invest. Indeed, the most famous Bitcoin crash of all time was due to the largest (at the time) exchange, Mt. Gox, secretly being insolvent due to various undisclosed thefts. When people tried and failed to pull their BTC out of Mt. Gox back in 2013 and 2014, the price of BTC fell like a rock as confidence in the currency evaporated.
We’ve come a long way since 2013, but centralized exchanges still represent the same kind of risks. Every time you put your money on an exchange, you are technically trusting that exchange is not going to take it and run. Their motives might not even be unscrupulous; it’s possible that governments could clamp down on exchanges, deciding that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are threats to the existing financial system. We’ve seen overbearing regulation cause great problems for exchanges in the past, such as in China.
A decentralized exchange bypasses all of these problems and more. The inherent “censorship resistance” of decentralized systems means that no entity - be it hacker, government, or something else - can easily shut down the exchange. Plus, since the system is completely transparent and run via Ethereum smart contracts, it’s theoretically impossible for any sort of “Goxing” style insolvency issues to happen.
Many tokens are trying to solve problems in the real world, but AirSwap is trying to solve a problem with cryptocurrency itself. Taking into account how huge crypto is right now, it doesn’t take a genius to realize the potential for AST to make it big. Before moving on, I’m just going to sum up by briefly listing off the ways AirSwap’s vision of decentralized exchanges is superior to existing, centralized exchanges:
- Better scaling
- Censorship resistance
- Fairer (no geography-based latency advantages)
- Private (no third parties required, just the two parties doing the trading)
Let’s finish up with a price comparison. At the time of this writing, Cardano is ranked #5 on coinmarketcap with a market capitalization of $19,568,456,489. If AST had Cardano’s current market cap, it would be worth over $130 per AST. That’s around 65 times the current price (less than $2). Obviously this is a highly speculative thing to say - AST is currently ranked 112th by market capitalization. However, if this technology ends up revolutionizing ERC-20 token trading, I personally believe AST could skyrocket through those ranks very quickly.
There is one more aspect of the price, though, that muddies the waters - these numbers I just listed are based on the fact that 150 million tokens are currently circulating. The reality, though, is that 350 million more tokens are held by the team in a multi-sig (“multiple signature”) wallet. This is probably not as big of a deal as it sounds, though; stakeholders must agree on the release of these tokens and huge swaths of them are locked up for four years. Like many coins, I imagine there will be a slow but ultimately healthy inflation effect from the gradual release of these coins into the market.
Now that you understand the price situation when it comes to AST, let’s get into buying some.
Buying AST: Basic Strategy
To date I’ve had no problems with the following basic strategy:
- Create and sign into a Coinbase account. I recommend Coinbase because they are the most straightforward exchange.
- Purchase some ETH. At the time of this writing, this currency transfers the fastest and cheapest out of anything Coinbase offers. Litecoin competes here, but will cause hiccups later in the process - more on that later.
- Create and sign in to a Binance account. If you are American, Binance is currently not accepting new American clients - use KuCoin instead. I recommend Binance because they have been reliable and convenient for me and they offer many different lesser-known cryptocurrencies with trading pairs on both ETH and BTC. An added bonus is that you can withdraw up to 2 BTC/day worth of funds with no verification at all.
- Move your ETH to Binance. Once it has confirmed, you can now easily use the ETH/AST trading pair to buy as much or as little AirSwap as you want. More on trading pairs later.
- Send your coins from Binance to a safe AST wallet for long term storage if you intend to hold for awhile. This is not strictly necessary but it is considered a safer option than keeping ANY coin on ANY exchange long term. I personally believe Coinomi to be the safest and most convenient wallet for many cryptocurrencies. Because AST is an ERC-20 token, this step is a little more complicated than usual— I will give details on this later in the guide. The long story short is that it’s possible, with some effort, to use Coinomi, a Ledger Nano S, or a Trezor to store AST.
Now, if you’re a power user or someone with some existing familiarity with cryptocurrency, you can probably stop here. The rest of this guide is just going to be a more in-depth description of the preceding steps. If you’re completely new to cryptocurrencies, you might be a little lost - that’s fine! You won’t be by the time you finish this guide. I’ll go step by step:
Starting Out On Coinbase
This is arguably the most trusted exchange currently on the market. You can think of them as the PayPal of the cryptocurrency world, with all the good and bad connotations that come along with that. There are some countries where this is not the case! For example, in Canada, one would probably want to use QuadrigaCX instead. Unfortunately, that’s outside the scope of this guide, but I do have a country-by-country guide which may help you if Coinbase doesn’t work in your area.
All you have to do here is go to Coinbase’s website and create an account. Security is incredibly important here - remember, in cryptocurrencies you are your own bank and so it is absolutely crucial that you follow good security practices. This means your password should be strong - and it should be a password you aren’t using anywhere else (including other exchanges). Google has a pretty good guide with some tips on choosing strong passwords. Keeping security in mind, it would also behoove you to turn on two-factor authentication once your account is created.
Once you are up and running there are a number of options when it comes to actually paying for coins via Coinbase. It is possible to link your bank account to Coinbase but actually transferring coins out of Coinbase will be impossible for a few days while the funds are clearing. This is obviously not ideal if you want to move quickly, as you would now have to wait several days to move your coins to an exchange where you can trade them for AST (or any other coin).
Instead, I would recommend you link a credit or debit card to Coinbase. This will allow you to purchase some amount of coins immediately, and then immediately send them off wherever you want - your wallet, another exchange, etc. At the time of this writing Coinbase offers three coins: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC).
What to Buy First?
In my opinion if you intend to buy lesser-known coins like AST, ETH is the best choice to buy here. Why? Well, with regards to LTC, the reason is clear: other exchanges like Binance offer direct trading pairs for BTC and ETH, but not LTC or any other currency. What this means is that you could directly exchange your ETH for AST, or your BTC for AST, but you’d have to perform another step if you wanted to trade your LTC for AST (and that means more fees!). Obviously we don’t want to waste even one cent if we can avoid it, so LTC is out.
With regards to BTC, at the time of this writing there have been a lot of rumblings about high transaction fees, slow transaction times, etc. Exchanges often overpay these fees as well, and that means that you are again risking missing out on more money than you need to.
ETH is therefore currently the best choice for our purposes by default - fastest transaction speed, lowest transaction cost. So, to review: create a Coinbase account, link your credit or debit card, and purchase ETH.
I Bought ETH: What Now?
Now is the time for you to make your Binance account. Follow the link and create an account using a strong password (this should be different than the one you used for Coinbase!). There are other places where you may be able to buy AST (Changelly and Kucoin are two reputable examples). There are other reputable exchanges as well, but be careful about using lesser known exchanges - scams do exist! This guide focuses on Binance because my experience there has been 100% positive - I have transferred coins in and out of their system many times with no problems.
After your Binance account is made, click “Funds” at the top right, then “Deposits Withdrawals” beneath it. Find Ethereum in the list and click the “Deposit” button on the far right. You should end up with something that looks like this:
Unlike the picture, there will be an “ETH Deposit Address” listed in the box at the bottom left. This is a very long series of letters and numbers, and is the fundamental basis of most if not all cryptocurrencies. An “address” is simply the destination for funds - think of it like the account and routing numbers at the bottom of your checks. For many cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin it is possible to have multiple “receiving addresses” which point towards the same wallet.
The address listed here is Binance’s “receiving address” for your Ethereum. To the right of it is a “copy address” button - use it to put the address into your copy/paste buffer. Then, in your Coinbase account, navigate to the Accounts tab and then to your ETH Wallet. Paste in your address. You should double check that the pasted address is the same one you saw on the deposits page in Binance - you can never be too sure when it comes to security! Once you’re sure you’re sending to the right place, input the amount of ETH you’d like to send (if you just want to buy some AST, you should send all of it) and click “Send.”
Optional Trick: Using GDAX To Save Money On Fees
GDAX, or “The Global Digital Asset Exchange,” is the actual exchange which backs Coinbase. You can use it to save a lot of money on fees if you’re willing to spend a few extra minutes getting verified. Follow this link and click “DEPOSIT.” Click “Coinbase Account” at the top and deposit all your ETH from Coinbase into GDAX.
Once you’ve done this, you can click “WITHDRAW” in GDAX and send your funds from GDAX to Binance. Fees are significantly reduced with this method!
I Sent ETH to Binance - Now What?
Once you click Send, you will need to wait a little while. Without getting too technical about it, exchanges want to be as secure as possible. Thus, when you make a deposit, they wait for multiple “confirmations” from the network before allowing you access to your funds. You can view the progress in your Binance account by clicking Funds and then History. Do not be alarmed if nothing shows up at first! There are many reasons there might be a slight delay. In general you should see the transaction show up within a few minutes, with the current number of “confirmations” next to the number of required “confirmations” next to it. Be patient - your AST is nearly in hand!
Once you have the required number of confirmations, it’s time to trade your ETH to AST. This is blessedly simple. In the front page of Binance, click “ETH Markets.” Search for “AST/ETH” in this list, and click it. Now you are on the trading page. In the bottom left under “Buy AST”, click “100%” below the “Amount” field.
This indicates to Binance that you’d like to trade all of your ETH for a commensurate amount of AST for no more than the price listed above. The price field is automatically listed based on the current market. If you like, you can change it to a different price, but like any market it’s not guaranteed that someone will buy at the price you’d like. Your order will remain open until it’s been fully filled or you cancel it. There are several options here such as Stop-Limit orders, etc., but this is outside the scope of this guide. In this case, you are simply placing a “Limit” order for some AST.
I Placed My Order! Am I Done?
If you want to be done now, you can be - but there are more steps if you want to be security-conscious. You may want to check under the “Orders” and “Order History” tabs that the order went through - if you placed a Limit order at the default price, it probably did. Once you have your AST in your Binance account, you can see them under “Funds” → “Deposits Withdrawals.” You can click “Hide 0 Balances” at the top to clean up the screen of coins you don’t own, and you can see an estimate of the overall converted BTC and USD value of your account at the top right.
For maximum security, I wouldn’t leave your coins in the exchange. I like and trust Binance, but ANY site can be hacked or experience downtime - even massively established trusted sites like PayPal. You want to have full control of your coins.
How Do I Move My Coins to a Private Wallet?
In Binance, go into the “Deposits & Withdrawals” tab, then click “Withdrawal” to the far right of the “AST” row. By now it should be clear what you’re looking at - fields that let you input the address to send the coins to, and how many coins to send. For your convenience, there is a “Max” button to the right of the Amount field. Note that once you click “Submit,” you will need to use your two-factor authentication via Google Authenticator, an Android app. I recommend you do not use your actual day-to-day phone for this purpose. These days you can get an inexpensive Android phone for around 30 dollars - this is an investment worth making for security purposes. You can keep the battery removed from the phone when you’re not using it, and connect it to a network only for cryptocurrency purposes. As a bonus, if you’d like, you can use this phone for the Coinomi wallet.
It is possible to get AST working in Coinomi right now and the process is fairly straightforward. In my opinion this is the preferred method, especially if you’re willing to buy an Android phone solely for cryptocurrency use. However, if you’d prefer to use a desktop wallet, I have written an easy-to-follow comprehensive guide which walks you through how to use MetaMask and MyEtherWallet to store any ERC-20 token, including AST.
One more thing about ERC-20 tokens: I understand it is possible to use a hardware wallet like the Ledger Nano S or Trezor to store them. I have not yet tried this myself, but I imagine it’s not that difficult - apparently all you do is plug in your hardware wallet and have it interface with MyEtherWallet in the place of MetaMask. If you’re confused by all this and want to know more, just check out my guide on the subject. Hardware wallets are probably the most secure option available, though they are also a somewhat pricier solution.
Be advised that the information here only scratches the surface on AirSwap and cryptocurrencies in general. I recommend you read as much as possible. Cryptocurrencies are the future, and if you’re reading this guide you are already lightyears ahead of the curve.
Come back soon because more content like this is always coming! If my work helped you or gave you something to think about, share it with others:
Sharing helps more people find my articles, and I’d love to be able to assist as many people as possible with cryptocurrencies. Also, if you have any ideas for future articles or specific questions, I’d love to hear them. One last thing: if you’d like to chat with me in real time, check out my Discord!
Best of luck, and happy trading!
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