How to buy Ethereum (ETH)
A beginner's guide to buying and trading Ether in Australia.
As the native asset of the Ethereum network and one of the best known digital currencies, Ether (ETH) can be traded on a huge range of crypto exchanges.
If you want to acquire some of this popular cryptocurrency for your portfolio but don't know how, you're in the right place. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions on how to buy Ether.
Quick guide: How to buy ETH
- Register for an account with a cryptocurrency exchange like Independent Reserve.
- Complete the signup questionnaire.
- Verify your account.
- Go to the “accounts” tab.
- Click “deposit” next to your currency of choice.
- Select your preferred payment method and confirm.
- Go to the “trade” tab and select the cryptocurrency you want to buy.
- Enter how much you want to buy.
- Double check the details and confirm your purchase.
This is our quick guide to just one way to buy ETH. Compare some other options in the table below.
Where to buy Ethereum (ETH)
You can find and compare Ethereum exchanges here. Or skip ahead to our curated list of top ETH exchanges.
HiveEx.com is an over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency platform specialising in high-volume trades.
- Trade between $50,000 and $100m for a fixed price
- Tap into HiveEx.com’s global network of high liquidity trading partners
- Access competitive rates compared to traditional exchange trading
- Receive your coins in your wallet fast, with same day settlement options
- As an AUSTRAC registered company, HiveEx.com is fully compliant with industry-standard AML and CTF obligations
Best Ethereum exchanges:
The typical Australian cryptocurrency exchange has trading fees in roughly the 0.5% to 1% range, plus "hidden costs" in the form of widely varying exchange rates. In Australia, it's not unusual for cryptocurrency to be sold about 1% to 5%, or even more, above mid-market rates.
Fortunately, exchange rates is where Swyftx really shines. Comparing prices on Swyftx to several other brokers shows that Swyftx has considerably better rates.
And while its trading fees aren't outright the lowest, they're still quite competitive.
You can buy directly with AUD so there are no currency exchange fees, but there may be some costs depending on your deposit method and the amount of the deposit.
Using a non-free deposit method for a small deposit may add up a considerable percentage of the total, so it's worth bearing this in mind.
The slowest part of registering with a cryptocurrency exchange is typically verification times, where the exchange checks your identification. This will often take a full day if you're trying to sign up after hours, or several days if it's a weekend or the exchange has a verification backlog.
As such, the fastest possible purchases will typically be from exchanges that can offer instant verification 24/7. Coinjar is one of them. It's possible to breeze through your first purchase at Coinjar with quick sign-up (just verify your email), instant verification, instant deposits and instant purchases.
The catch is that you need to have Digital iD for instant verification. If you don't, it may take up to 24 hours to get verified.
If you aren't interested in using Digital iD, you may want to simply look for an easier or cheaper exchange instead.
Also, note that while you can buy cryptocurrency fast with Coinjar, after your first deposit there's a seven-day waiting period before you can withdraw the Ethereum to an external wallet.
Cryptocurrency exchanges can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when it's a peer-to-peer exchange where buying means navigating the order books. Meanwhile, some cryptocurrency brokers will require users to have their own wallets, or burden users with too much detail or crowded interfaces.
CoinSpot does none of these things. It's a straightforward brokerage, with an optional peer-to-peer market on the side, and it provides its users with wallets for all supported cryptocurrencies. That it offers an exceptionally wide range of cryptocurrencies, all in one place, is an added bonus.
The registration steps are clear and the verification steps are clearly explained as part of the sign-up process.
Transaction histories are clearly displayed, fees are fixed and clearly shown, and you can denominate buy and sell prices in AUD or cryptocurrency as preferred.
CoinSpot has local customer service and it keeps extraneous features and information to a minimum, focusing on only the essentials. Plus, its palette is easy on the eyes.
- Read the full methodology for a more comprehensive explanation of how we compare exchanges.
Ethereum vs Ether: What’s the difference?
Ether is the native token of Ethereum, a smart contracts platform which developers can use to build and deploy decentralised applications. However, despite this fact, it’s quite common to see the platform’s currency also referred to as Ethereum across crypto exchanges and online.
A step-by-step guide to buying Ethereum
If you're new to the world of cryptocurrency, you'll most likely find that buying ETH direct with Australian dollars is the easiest option. However, we've also included instructions on how to buy ETH using another cryptocurrency (in this case bitcoin) if that is your preferred approach.
Buying Ether with AUD
There are several exchanges that allow you to buy Ether with Australian dollars, so make sure you compare the features and fees of a range of platforms before deciding which one you'd like to use.
For this example, we'll show you how to buy ETH with AUD on Australian exchange CoinSpot.
Step 1. Register for a CoinSpot account
Visit the CoinSpot website and click on the "Register" button in the top right corner of the page. You can then sign up for an account by providing:
- Your name
- Your email address
- Your phone number
- Proof of ID
- Proof of residency
- A photo of yourself holding a signed statement
Make sure you enable 2-factor authentication on your account before moving on to step 2.
Step 2. Deposit AUD into your account
When logged in to your Coinspot account, click on the "Deposit AUD" link visible from the account dashboard. There are three ways to make a deposit:
- Online via POLi Payments
- Online using BPAY
- In person by making a cash deposit at a participating newsagent
For the quickest option, select POLi Payments and follow the prompts.
Step 3. Buy Ether
Once the funds have arrived in your account, click the "Buy/Sell" tab at the top of the screen and select "Ethereum" from the list of currencies. Next, click the "Buy Ethereum" link and then specify either the amount of ETH you want to buy or the amount of AUD you'd like to spend.
Make sure you double-check the details and total cost of your transaction before clicking "Buy".
Buying Ether with another cryptocurrency
If you want to exchange another cryptocurrency for ETH, there are myriad exchanges that allow you to do so. Make sure you compare the features and fees of a range of platforms before deciding which one you'd like to use.
To provide a clear example of exactly how to buy ETH with another cryptocurrency, let's look at how to complete this transaction on Binance.
Step 1. Buy BTC
While Ether can be purchased using a number of popular cryptocurrencies, bitcoin is the easiest to acquire and trade.
If you already have some BTC, skip ahead to step 2. If you don't, you can find step-by-step instructions on how to acquire some in our guide to buying bitcoin.
Step 2. Register for a Binance account
Navigate to the Binance website and click the "Register" link at the top right of screen. You can then sign up for an account by entering your email address and creating a password. Remember to activate 2-factor authentication before proceeding to step 3.
In addition, please be aware that if you want a higher account withdrawal limit than 2 BTC, you'll need to provide proof of ID.
Step 3. Deposit BTC into your Binance account
If your bitcoin is already stored on Binance, skip ahead to step 4.
However, if your BTC is stored on another exchange or in a bitcoin wallet, you'll need to find the address of your Binance wallet so you can transfer the BTC into your trading account.
To do this, you'll need to log in to your Binance account, click the "Funds" drop-down menu and then select "Deposits". Choose bitcoin from the list of supported currencies and copy the wallet address or scan the QR code provided.
This is the destination address you must use to send a BTC deposit to Binance from your private wallet.
Step 4. Buy Ether
Now it's time to click the "Exchange" tab near the top left of screen and choose the "Basic" trading view. Use the search box provided to find the BTC/ETH trading pair and then choose a limit, market or stop-limit order.
Enter the amount of Ether you want to purchase, but remember to review all the details of the transaction before clicking "Buy ETH".
How to sell Ether
If you want to sell your ETH tokens, the good news is that they can be exchanged for an extensive range of digital and fiat currencies on many different exchanges.
The selling process is similar to the buying process outlined above in step 4, except for the key difference that you'll need to enter your transaction details in the "Sell" field.
Which wallets can I use to hold Ether?
While some people choose to store their crypto tokens in their exchange account, this is not recommended. As exchanges are regular targets for hackers and thieves, it's generally considered a much safer option to move your ETH tokens into a wallet which allows you to retain full control of your private keys.
Happily, there are heaps of choices available when searching for an Ethereum wallet. Options you might like to consider include:
- Hardware wallets like the Ledger Nano S and TREZOR
- Mobile wallets like Coinomi and Enjin
- Desktop wallets like Exodus and Ethereum Wallet
- Web wallets like MyEtherWallet
- Web browser extensions like MetaMask
How Ethereum works
Launched in 2015, Ethereum is an open-source blockchain platform which developers can use to build and run decentralised applications (dapps). Its key feature is that it allows developers to create smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts that automatically complete tasks when specific conditions are met. As an example, a basic smart contract could say, "pay John $50 if he emails me a 10-page report on pet obesity by 30 November 2018".
These smart contracts are executed by the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which is powered by a decentralised international network of nodes. In the real world, Ethereum can be used to power dapps and smart contracts across a diverse range of industries, including everything from finance and insurance to supply chain management, betting and file storage.
Ether is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network. It is used by developers to pay for transaction fees and services on Ethereum, and can also be traded on a wide range of crypto exchanges.
What to consider before you buy Ether
Cryptocurrencies are complicated and volatile assets, and buying any digital coin or token comes with a high level of risk attached. Before you buy, make sure you do plenty of research and that you recognise those factors that could potentially drive the price of a crypto asset either up or down.
If you're thinking of buying Ether, consider the following factors first:
- Supply. According to CoinMarketCap, at time of writing (October 2018) the circulating supply of ETH was 102,883,734. Unlike bitcoin, Ether does not have a maximum supply cap limit but instead an annual issuance capped at 18,000,000 ETH per year. Find out more in our guide to the ETH inflation rate.
- Move to proof-of-stake. Though it started life as a proof-of-work cryptocurrency, Ethereum will soon be shifting to a proof-of-stake system as part of the Casper update. Designed to improve scalability and tackle centralisation, Casper's success (or otherwise) will have a big impact on the future of Ethereum.
- Market leader. As it stands, Ethereum has the biggest profile of all the dapps platforms currently in existence. Thanks to its early-mover advantage, Ether is the world's second largest digital currency in terms of market cap and the Ethereum platform is synonymous with the development of dapps.
- Competition. However, Ethereum is also operating in an increasingly competitive market sector. NEO, Lisk, EOS and Cardano are just some of the dapp platforms that look set to compete with Ethereum in the future.
- Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). The EEA is a non-profit corporation that aims to accelerate the adoption of Ethereum's blockchain technology by businesses. If it can successfully drive increased use of Ethereum, this could potentially lead to increased demand for ETH.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ADA, ICX, IOTA and XLM.
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