What is Cryptocurrency? Is it Bitcoin? – Everything you need to know and how to buy it in Malaysia (Luno)!

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What is Bitcoin? Is it cryptocurrency? Is it legal in Malaysia? How do buy in Malaysia? All these answered below! At writing, Bitcoin is currently at USD18,312.

Bitcoin has hit to a new all-time high just under USD 20,000 just last week, topping the previous peak of USD$19,783 on December 2017! Bitcoin, around since 2009, is now once again the talk of the town. Coupled with the exploding adoption of its underlying technology – blockchain, Bitcoin is attracting investors and sorts fledgling to cryptocurrencies looking to profit.

What is Cryptocurrency?

cryptocurrency (or crypto currency or crypto for short) is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange wherein individual coin ownership records are stored in a ledger existing in a form of computerised database using strong cryptography to secure transaction records, to control the creation of additional coins, and to verify the transfer of coin ownership.

Cryptocurrency – Wikipedia

What this means that cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology, and this technique solves the problem of double-spending, and also decentralising the one authoritative model of a single body controlling all the funds and personal details.

Blockchain is a public ledger of all transactions that has ever happened in the network, stored in fragments all over the world, and it’s available to everyone. A blockchain, collects information together in blocks that holds sets of information. Blocks have certain storage capacities and when filled, are chained together by cryptography onto the previously filled block. Hence, the term blockchain. Also, good to note that once a block is filled, it is set in stone and becomes a part of this timeline – making it secure.

Origins of the first cryptocurrency – Bitcoin

Unknown to most, who invented the first cryptocurrency – the Bitcoin, is still a mystery that has yet to be solved! Usually people are proud of their inventions, but this is not so for Bitcoin. A person or group that went by the name Satoshi Nakamoto, made the very first announcement about Bitcoin on The Cryptography Mailing list at metzdowd.com.

Announcing the first release of Bitcoin, a new electronic cash system that uses a peer-to-peer network to prevent double spending. It’s completely decentralised with no server or central authority.

Satoshi Nakamoto – metzdowd.com

Who Satoshi Nakamoto is and why hasn’t he/she/they chose to remain anonymous is still unclear. But pretty obvious motivations would be primarily privacy and safety. Imagine the media attention. Furthermore, as Bitcoin revolutionises existing traditional banking systems and monetary systems – I’d bet it has stepped on some big toes. If Bitcoin could one day surpass nations’ sovereign fiat currencies, governments would be lining up to take legal action against Bitcoin’s creator(s).

After Bitcoin, more altcoins were launched. Altcoins are other cryptocurrencies, alternative to Bitcoin. Some of the famous ones are Etherum, Litecoin, and Ripple. Each altcoin is created for different purposes and operates according to their own set of rules, but principally adopts the same blockchain technology that Bitcoin uses. For example, Bitcoin can only produce up to 21 million Bitcoins, but Litecoin can produce up to 84 million Litecoins – enabling it faster processing speed over Bitcoin.

Are cryptocurrencies legal in Malaysia?

TL;TR – They aren’t legal tender, but it’s legal.

According a statement released by the Bank Negara Malaysia on 6 Dec 2018, digital assets (digital currencies and tokens, including Bitcoin!) are currently not legal tender in Malaysia, but it doesn’t mean it’s illegal.

The Securities Commissions (“SC”) of Malaysia has actually released a set of regulations for any digital asset exchanges who wish to operate in Malaysia. If you read the guidelines, you’d find that the regulations have set out robust measures in place to protect users and their assets. So, you and me can have a peace of mind when investing in cryptocurrencies in Malaysia.

So… how to buy cryptocurrencies in Malaysia safely?

Generally, there are a few ways to get cryptocurrency. You can buy it, mine it or earn it through selling products or services. As cryptocurrencies aren’t generally used in Malaysia (plus you’d need your own crypto wallet to store your cryptocurrencies), and you need equipment to mine it, buying it from a cryptocurrency exchange is the easiest way own cryptocurrency.

Thankfully, in Malaysia, we have one digital asset exchange (and also the first) fully approved by the SC – Luno. When you buy from Luno, you automatically have a crypto wallet set up for you. Luno keeps your Bitcoin safe by:

Bitcoin Storage

  • Deep freeze storage – These are multi-signature wallets, with private keys stored in different bank vaults.
  • Hot wallet – They maintain a multi-signature hot wallet to facilitate instant Bitcoin withdrawals. There are two keys that are held by Luno and a multi-signature custodian leader BitGo.

Authentication

  • Passwords – Passwords are stored in hashed form: nobody other than yourself ever has access to your password, and Luno makes sure users use a strong password when users sign up with them.
  • Two factor authentication – Luno has another level of authentication to ensure complete peace of mind.

Company security principles

  • Site, service and staff – All web services and communication happens over SSL-secured (https) channels. Wallets are stored using PGP encryption. No individual has direct access to customers’ Bitcoin funds and regular auditing.
  • Personal information – All personally identifiable information such as ID numbers, names and identify documents scans, are encrypted and securely stored.

Furthermore, Luno not only operates in Malaysia, but also in the United Kingdom, Singapore, South Africa, Indonesia, Nigeria and Australia. So, I’d think they have sufficient experience in managing your cryptocurrencies.

Luno – is it good and how do I start?

I’ve been using Luno since October 2019, and so far it has been all good. When I first started using this platform, they only offered Bitcoin and Ethereum. Now, they offer Ripple and Litecoin as well.

Fees wise, given that they already charge you a trading fee, I would expect deposit and withdrawal fees to be completely free, but nope. Deposit fees and withdrawal fees are as below:

Deposit fees:

CurrencyMethodFee
MYRFPX instant transferMYR0.70
MYRInterbank GIROFree

Withdrawal fees:

CurrencyMethodFee
MYRInterbank GIRORM0.10

So far my deposits have gone in within the same day, or the next business day, and it’s likewise for withdrawals. Just to note that withdrawals are processed manually for MYR. So, please refer to the full list of cut-off times in order for your withdrawal to be processed here.

Trading fees is a tad little more complicated, but generally I have been charged about 2% for each transaction (meaning when I buy I get charged 2%, and when I sell I get charged another 2%). For their full list of fees, click here.

If you’re interested to buy crypto, sign up for Luno! Click here or use my code “RF4S7”, deposit and buy MYR 250 worth of crypto and you will get MYR 25 in Bitcoin to kick start your journey in cryptocurrency. You’d be directed to sign up page, where you’d need to fill up some personal details and upload some documents to verify your identity. The entire process is pretty straight-forward and fast.

Should I invest in crypto?

Fair warning: Cryptocurrency are extremely volatile. It can be $18,000 one day, and $6,000 the next month. Invest at your own risk.

Generally, like any other goods and services, cryptocurrency markets are governed by the most fundamental economic principle – supply and demand. However, since crypto is decentralised, they tend to remain free from many of the economic and political concerns that affect traditional currencies. Cryptocurrencies are also not created by debt, it represents themselves, unlike the money in your bank account.

However, this doesn’t save cryptocurrencies from speculation, often making it highly volatile. And since it is private, anonymous and secure, it is something used for illegal purposes, for example as a means of payment of black markets and any other outlawed economic activity.

So, whether or not to invest in it – I’ve placed a little portion of my portfolio into crypto because I believe that cryptocurrencies and the technologies used are here to stay. As crypto matures, and gains acceptance, I believe that crypto will soon be used in day-to-day transactions, and perhaps being the means to remit value world-wide given its security. It’s also a means to hedge against the devaluation of the national currency and capital controls.

As always, do your own diligence before any investment, and especially so for cryptocurrency. Because trust me, it’s gonna be a wild ride.

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