Baby Coin Fever

Now that the major coins are priced in the hundreds, thousands, and teen-thousands, there’s a lot of excitement about the “baby coins” – cryptocurrencies that are under $10 and often under $1. Currently there are almost 2000 baby coins, and that number is growing exponentially. I’ve been following four specific baby coins: Stellar (XLM), Tronix (TRX), Cardano (ADA), and Po.et (POE).

Since these coins are so cheap, it’s thrilling to be able to buy a lot of them, and anticipate they appreciate by factors of thousands. The challenge is that few of these baby coins are traded on the main exchanges (Coinbase or Kraken) or if they are on a main exchange, you can’t buy them for USD, only for Bitcoin. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know I’m not interested in using my Bitcoin because I believe it will continue to appreciate – some forecast to $40,000, $60,000, $100,000 or even $1 million. Last spring people laughed when Bitcoin was forecast to reach $5,000 by December 2017, and it surpassed $5K by October.

I (stupidly) bought a quarter Bitcoin (at its peak price – read all about my lapse in good judgement here) to make whole my beloved Bitcoin that reduced to 0.995 when I moved it from Kraken into a hardware wallet.

To purchase baby coins, you need to use an exchange that trades more obscure coins. Some of those exchanges have bad reputations – they let you deposit but won’t let you withdraw, essentially holding your funds and/or coins captive. Not to stereotype, but this complaint is common for many Russian exchanges. One exchange that seems to have a decent reputation is Binance.

Signing up for Binance was simple – provide an email address and password. They email a confirmation message to you, you confirm through the email, and you’re in. Binance has a fun CAPCHA method – you use a slider to fit a puzzle piece into its empty space. Once in Binance, the user interface isn’t as friendly as Kraken (and I found Kraken confusing at first).

Binance does not support fiat currency (i.e. won’t let you link a bank account to deposit fiat currency). You need to already have cryptocurrency from another exchange (like Kraken) to trade crypto-to-crypto. I don’t want to further fracture my beloved Bitcoin, but I am willing to sacrifice one Ethereum for a baby-coin buying spree.

Having transferred coins from Kraken to my hardware wallet, I had some comfort level of sending a coin from Kraken to Binance. I logged into Kraken, clicked the FUNDING tab, clicked the WITHDRAW tab, the clicked ETHER where it asked me to set up a destination wallet. I toggled over to Binance to find the Ethereum wallet address for my Binance account. You scroll through the LONG list of coins until you see ETH. Then you click on the DEPOSIT button on the far right of the coin’s row. This brings ETH Deposit Address field WHICH WAS BLANK.  I googled “how to send ETH to Binance” and it basically told me to do what I already did. After a few more tries, an address code appeared in the field. I still have no idea what I did to make it appear. When I figure it out, I will write an entry about how to do it because I can’t be the only person perplexed by this process.

I copied the address from Binance into Kraken and saved. Kraken sent me a confirmation email to ensure I did indeed set up an Ethereum wallet to send coins to. I confirmed it, and was able to send 1 whole Ether (which actually ends up being 0.995 ETH because Kraken takes a 0.05 commission).

The blogs and YouTubers all claim that Ether is pretty fast to transfer into Binance. I beg to differ. FOURTY MINUTES passed before my transfer was even ACKNOWLEDGED by Binance. Note I said “acknowledged” not “confirmed”. It took 57 minutes for Kraken to recognize the transfer a success, but Binance still had not confirmed the transfer. I kept checking Binance’s “Deposit History” page and eventually noticed a weird number changing. Forty minutes into waiting for the transfer to confirm, I the message noticed “32/30 Confirming”.  Fifteen minutes later the message was “83/30 Confirming”. Five minutes later it was “95/30 Confirming”. I really hoped it only goes up to 100/30. Two minutes later it showed “Deposit Completed”. An HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES lapsed to successfully transfer the Ether.

At first I clicked the EXCHANGE button on Ethereum’s row next the “DEPOSIT” and “WITHRAWAL” buttons, but that only gave the option of trading ETH for BTC or USD, not trade ETH for a baby coin. So I clicked on the “Exchange” link at the top left of the screen. This gave me the option to choose BASIC or ADVANCED. When given the option, I always default to BASIC.

The BASIC screen looks not very basic to me. It’s a lively screen of graphs, charts, tables and other colorful informatics. The far left of the screen lets you choose BTC, ETH, BNB, USDT and lists a ton of what look like baby coins. I clicked on ETH and the baby coins display their trade ration to ETH. Mercifully it provides a “search” field so you don’t have to scroll through the multitudes of coin offerings.

My first search was XLM which is trading for 0.00097550 ETH. Then I found TRX trades for 0.000115 ETH. ADA trades at 0.00131 ETH. And POE trades at 0.000125 ETH.

Binance has a cool feature that lets you trade 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of whatever you’re funded with. In my case, it was the 0.995 ETH. I believed that saved me the ass-ache of calculating 0.995 ETH into quarters. Since I wanted to buy 4 baby coins, I chose to use 25% for each. The graphs showed the prices rising rapidly for all 4 of them, so I just clicked BUY one after the other. I didn’t know if any of my buy requests succeeded, I kept clicking the coins I wanted a pushing the BUY button. Then I clicked the ORDERS link at the top of the page to see which transactions completed successfully.

I clicked ORDERS then TRADE HISTORY and saw that my requests were “processed”, but I couldn’t tell if that meant the purchases were successful. I clicked on ORDERS then OPEN ORDERS and saw I had no open orders which I took as a good sign. Then I clicked on ORDERS > ORDER HISTORY and that showed all of my orders had a status of “Filled” which was comforting. I really like the idea of having no leftover funds to deal with.

I clicked back onto the FUNDS link at the top right of the screen to see if my balances appear for XLM, TRX, ADA, and POE. It shows I have over 2,104.893 TRX; 795.204 POE; 185.814 XLM; 107.892 ADA. But it also shows I have 0. 31547862 ETH! I thought I spent all of my ETH buying 25% of these 4 baby coins. It appears I don’t actually understand Binance’s trading platform.

It took about an hour of thinking before I realized the “25%” option didn’t spit my 0.995 ETH into quarters. Only my first trade was 25% of 0.995 ETH. My next trade was 25% of the remaining 75% of my 0.995 ETH and the trade after that was 25% of the remainder of the previous trade, etc. So each trade was for less ETH than the last. So I guess I really do have to do the math myself and decide how much Ether to spend on the remaining 3 coins. I don’t have the mathematical fortitude to calculate the differences to make an even distribution. I divided my remaining 0.31547862 ETH into thirds to allocate to POE, XLM, and ADA. That means 0.10515954 of an Ether for each.

In the trading interface there is no way to input the amount of ETH you want to spend, you can only input the amount of a coin you want to buy. So I typed in some random numbers and watched the amount of ETH it would cost until it got close to 0.10515954. When I used the rest of my ETH to buy the balance of my baby coins, I clicked back over to FUNDS >DEPOSITS WITHDRAWALS to see my balances. As I suspected, the amount of TRX didn’t change because I already bought 25% of my ETH. The balance of XLM was up, and ADA was up, but it still showed I had 0.10718 of Ether left! I clicked on ORDERS > OPEN ORDERS and saw that my POE purchase is still pending. I clicked back to FUNDS > DEPOSITS WITHDRAWALS and confirmed that my amount of POE did not increase by 813. I’m wondering if I should cancel it and try again or just leave it. What I find curious is Binance has warnings about XLM and ADA trading being heavy and possibly delayed, but those transactions cleared immediately. My poor POE is stuck in purgatory. I check the trading platform again and notice that POE is trading at 0.0014 now, and my purchase was for 0.0013. I tried to cancel the order at least a dozen times so I could raise the buy price, but every attempt to cancel the transaction failed. Then Binance went offline for “system upgrades”. Part of me believes I broke Binance with my constant refreshing. I need to step away from the screen. I hope the price dips so the purchase can clear.

It’s exciting to imagine getting in on the ground floor of what could be the next big coin. While I wait for my POE transaction to complete, I need to finally set up my Ledger Nano S hardware wallet to store these Baby Coins safely off the Internet.

Transferring Bitcoin To Trezor Wallet From Kraken

Owning Bitcoin has become part of my identity, partly due to its appreciating value. The trauma of losing my Bitcoin to hackers would be overwhelming, and  I would die of humiliation if my exchange account was hacked before I loaded my cryptocurrency into one of the wallets I ALREADY PURCHASED. I already set up my Trezor wallet, so that’s where I decided to transfer my beloved Bitcoin for safe keeping.

The Trezor hardware wallet works best on a Chrome browser, so I launched Chrome and plugged the Trezor wallet into my laptop’s USB drive and typed in the Trezor Wallet address https://wallet.trezor.io and also logged into Kraken.

Now you have to do something in Kraken and something in the Trezor wallet interface. It doesn’t matter which order, but I did Kraken first.

On Kraken, click on the FUNDING tab, then click on WITHDRAW. Then from the long list of cryptocurrencies running along the left side of the Kraken screen, click on Bitcoin.

Click over to the Trezor wallet tab. You MUST make sure the currency you’re sending from Kraken matches the currency you’re receiving into your Trezor wallet.  This menu to select Bitcoin in Trezor is kind of hidden. At the top left corner of the wallet interface screen is the Trezor name and logo. Under the Trezor name and logo is a > symbol.  Clicking the > shows a menu of cryptocurrencies compatible with Trezor. Select Bitcoin.

You’ll see at the top of the Trezor wallet interface screen are 4 links: “Transactions”, “Receive”, “Send”, “Sign & Verify”. Click on “Receive”.

The top of the “Receive” page will say RECEIVE BITCOIN. Below you will see a 35-character code of upper and lower case letters and numbers. This is your Bitcoin wallet address for your Trezor Hardware Wallet. Highlight and copy this address onto your clipboard.

Click back over to Kraken. On the WITHDRAW BITCOIN screen you will see a button that says “Add Wallet”. Click on this button. Now you’ll see and empty field that says “Description” and an empty field that says “Address”.

The “Description” field is where you type in a reminder of where you’re sending your Bitcoin. I recommend your name or initials, the type of wallet (i.e. Trezor) maybe the color of the wallet (it’s conceivable in the future you may end up with more than one) and the currency (i.e. BTC).

In the “Address” field, paste the wallet address code you copied from Trezor. Then click the green SAVE ADDRESS button.

Kraken will send you an email about your Withdrawal Request. You must open that email and click on the “Confirmation” link within an hour of them sending it, or it will expire. If you don’t confirm this address through the email link, your transfer will not go through. The email should show up immediately. Open it and click on the APPROVE link, then go back into Kraken (you may need to log back in and navigate back to FUNDING > WITHDRAW > BITCOIN).

Now the “Address” field won’t be blank, it will have a pull-down menu. Click the Pull-down menu and you should see the wallet you just saved. Select that wallet so it populates the “Address” field.

Under the “Address” field  is an empty “Amount” field. This is where you fill in how many Bitcoin you want to send to your wallet. Since I only have 1 Bitcoin to transfer, I typed in 1. At the bottom of the Kraken page you will see a big green “REVIEW WITHDRAWAL” button. Clicking on it brings up a new screen where you can double-check the Wallet address and the amount to transfer.

I was nervous to make sure the information matches, so I clicked the big red “CANCEL” button which returns to the screen where you can edit the wallet address or the amount.   After double and triple checking for accuracy, I clicked the big green “REVIEW WITHDRAWAL” button, then the other big green “CONFIRM WITHDRAWAL” button.

Kraken sent an email informing me it received a Withdrawal Request and the name of my Trezor hardware wallet. Since I made this Withdrawal Request, I didn’t have to do anything. If I didn’t make this Withdrawal Request, there is a process to stop it.

Bloggers say a message confirming the withdrawal was submitted successfully will appear in Kraken in less than a minute, and will show a 20-ish character confirmation code. This was not my experience at all.

I saw NO indication in Kraken that the withdrawal was submitted successfully. I saw no indication in my Trezor wallet interface that the withdrawal was submitted successfully. I clicked through Kraken looking for a place that would show me the progress of this transfer. I clicked around inside Kraken and discovered going to FUNDING then WITHDRAWAL shows  a table of recent withdrawals, but this page showed no activity for me.

Of course I flipped out, presuming I did something wrong. Did I copy the address right? Is the wallet plugged in right? Is the internet connection strong enough? I swear I would prefer losing my Bitcoin to hackers than to my own human error.

After about 10 minutes of psychological trauma, Kraken logged me out. When I logged back in, I went back to FUNDING > WITHDRAWAL and saw an entry for my Bitcoin transfer had a “Pending” status. This was somewhat comforting.

I clicked over to Trezor to see if it showed a “Pending” transaction. I clicked on the “Receive” link and saw nothing. I clicked on the “Transactions” link and saw nothing. Bloggers claim it should take about 5 minutes from initiating the transfer from Kraken, to seeing the transfer in Trezor as “unconfirmed”. As you may suspect, this was not my experience. Trezor showed no evidence of an incoming transfer.

Two hours later, still no evidence of Bitcoin coming to my wallet.

I logged back into Kraken and noticed the Balances screen showed I had 0 Bitcoin. This must mean my transfer successfully completed! Wrong. I went back to FUNDING > WITHDRAWAL and saw the status was still PENDING. I noticed if you click on the transfer’s ID Number, a new page appears with details of the transfer. It showed that the transfer initiated 4 hours ago. It also showed it was pending and did not yet have a Transaction ID. I abhor that my Bitcoin is neither in my Kraken portfolio, nor in my hardware wallet, and doesn’t even have a transaction ID.  Can Bitcoin just disappear? It got late and I went to bed miserable.

Upon waking I apprehensively checked my Trezor wallet and saw at 3 a.m. the transfer confirmed. IT TOOK OVER 10 HOURS. The relief of having my Bitcoin in hardware wallet sanctuary turned to horror when I noticed my Bitcoin balance of 0.999 BTC. Apparently transferring a Bitcoin costs 0.001 Bitcoin. I wish there was a way to pay this fee in USD to preserve the wholeness of the Bitcoin, but apparently that’s not how it works. I hate that I own less than a whole Bitcoin. I’m glad that it’s safe in my hardware wallet but depressed it’s no longer whole.

Why I Need A Hardware Wallet

Two things recently happened that compel me to search for a cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet. First, I recently discovered all of my cryptocurrency investments are WAY above their purchase price. Second, I was unable to log into my Kraken exchange account.

I’ve never had a problem logging into Kraken before. I figured I must have fat-fingered a digit. I carefully guided my index finger for a second attempt.  When this also failed, I double-checked my hand written note to confirm the login and password. It’s been a few weeks since my last login, so maybe I misremembered my login or password. When that third attempt failed, I felt sick, fearing the worst.

Reaching Kraken’s customer support from OUTSIDE of your account is almost impossible. The Customer Service link sits on the trading dashboard AFTER YOU LOG IN. I tried www.kraken.com/help and got a 404 Error. I tried https://www.kraken.com/help and got a 520 Error. I tried the extensions /CustomerService and /CustomerSupport without success. I googled “Kraken Customer Support” and found a link on Reddit. I clicked that link and logged a generic “locked out of my account” request for help. Within a few hours an email arrived requesting more detailed information to confirm I am the rightful owner of said account. This gave me pause.

The email looked exactly like other messages I’ve received from Kraken customer support when they assisted me with various issues. But panic consumed me: Could this be a clever hacker cloaking themselves to look like legitimate Customer Support? I attempted several more times to log into my account unassisted, but without success. I miserably relented and submitted my vital stats to this seemingly benevolent stranger.

For 3 sleepless nights, I imagined someone effortlessly draining my account. Kraken’s customer support email finally arrived, claiming they have no record of my log in attempts. This seemed impossible and did nothing to relieve my stress. After a momentary mental meltdown, I thought to re-examine the Post-It note harboring my Kraken login and password. I realized I could be misreading one character. I tried another login which succeeded – and I confirmed my portfolio remained as I left it several weeks ago.

Seriously, what IS stopping unscrupulous online pirates from posting fake Customer Support links on a community sites to spoof support emails until they have the info to access your account and steal your coins? How long before you realize you were scammed?

This motivated me to get my crypto portfolio off of the World Wide Hackers Buffet and into a hardware wallet where it can reside in peace and prosperity offline.

Googling “hardware wallet” yields countless blog reviews about the same 3 hardware wallets: TREZOR, Keepkey, and Ledger Nano S. At this point, I must confess my skepticism of bloggers. First I’m damn sure they did not buy these items, they were furnished by the manufacturers. I’m also sure they get paid to say nice things about the products they “review” (i.e. promote) so their opinions are not fully objective. Second, it appears most Bitcoin bloggers either ARE or WERE tech professionals – so what they find “easy” will befuddle a civilian like me.

Now I’m going to research these 3 hardware wallets to decide which best fits my needs before I succumb to paranoid exhaustion.

The Day I Bought My First Bitcoin

I bought one Bitcoin on September 19, 2017 for $3,909. This purchase was approximately 4 years in the making. For those who haven’t yet bought Bitcoin or altcoins, I’m reporting my experiences to help you avoid the problems and frustrations I encountered. Much of it was self-inflicted. Some of it was bureaucratic.

By the time I finally acted on my intention to buy Bitcoin, the price increased X100. During the summer of 2017, I trolled the Internet researching the best platform to buy, and decided on Coinbase. This was my first mistake. To be fair, it seems that people who signed onto Coinbase between 2012 and mid-2016 are happy with the platform. But those of us who signed on mid-2016 and later had a terrible experience.

In the spring of 2017, Bitcoin climbed from $800 to $1,300. I could see the steady rise in valuation and I wanted in. When Bitcoin reached $2,000 at the beginning of June, I signed up for a Coinbase account. I was wanted to buy immediately. That day I learned there is no “immediately” when you are buying for the first time.

In hindsight, all crypto platforms I’ve encountered (in the US) require a “validation” process, which basically means you prove you are who you say you are before you are allowed to buy or sell. Basically, without this ability, having a Coinbase account is pointless. On Coinbase, getting “validated” takes A LOT of time. In fact, 5 months after signing up, Coinbase STILL hasn’t “validated” me. And during that time, the price more than doubled. I tried reaching Coinbase’s customer service and learned they don’t have customer service. They only provide canned FAQ answers and “chat bots” but no live humans to call or email. A heroic amount of digging uncovered a customer service email address. I sent many requests inquiring about my status and how to expedite the process: Provide more information? Clarify something? I never received a response.

I’m embarrassed to say it took 3 and a half months before I moved on to a different platform. Archived Reddit chat rooms indicated Kraken as a decent platform, so I signed up for Kraken and discovered Kraken has 5 “Tiers” of validation.

The first is “Tier 0” which means you activated your account, and you can look around but not buy, sell, or trade. If I recall correctly, you click on a link that’s emailed to you. It only takes a few minutes.

The second is “Tier 1” which means you can trade Bitcoin you already have, but you can’t buy anything with real money (or “fiat currency” as they call it). You provide your full name, country of residence, birth date, and phone number. You can reach “Tier 1” certification within a few hours, but for someone buying their first Bitcoin, this Tier is useless.

So you move on to “Tier 2” which gives you a little more functionality but still restricts a US resident from buying their first Bitcoin. You are asked to upload a scan or photo of the front and back of a government-issued photo ID, like a driver’s license. It also asks that you upload a scan or photo of a bank statement or credit card statement with your full name and address on it. It also asks you to take a selfie holding your government-issued photo ID and a sign with a statement declaring “Only for trading digital currency on www.kraken.com” with the date and your signature. It felt like a posing for a “proof of life” note in a hostage situation. I uploaded it all and waited for confirmation. After a few days of no change in status, I became concerned and looked for a customer support outlet. Of course there was no phone number but there was an email address. Remembering my bad experience with Coinbase, I reluctantly emailed Kraken customer service and I was shocked to receive an answer a few hours later that day – signed by a person’s name. He said my application was working through the system but it all looked fine. I thanked him for the speedy response, and received a response saying “you’re welcome” which was not necessary but nice.

I think a week passed before I received the email indicating my ID was accepted and I was “Tier 2” validated. In the mean time, Bitcoin price rose 10%.

I moved on to “Tier 3” which lets a US citizen link a bank account to a Kraken account. I was eager to complete this phase because Bitcoin value was rising quickly. Unfortunately, linking your Kraken account to your bank account takes almost a week.

First of all, you need to know your bank’s wire routing number WHICH IS NOT THE SAME as the routing number on your checks. Finding the right person at your bank who understands what you’re asking for is a process that may take an hour or more. Once you get this information, you populate it into your Kraken account. Then you have to decide EXACTLY HOW MUCH money you plan to wire from that bank account into your Kraken account. I found this nerve wracking since Bitcoin prices were rising daily. I ended up wiring enough to buy 2 Bitcoins at the time.

When you identify the amount of money you plan to wire, Kraken sends you special instructions that you MUST PRINT OUT AND TAKE TO THE BANK. You need the special instructions to wire the money into your Kraken account successfully. If you make a mistake, your money can be stuck in limbo for who knows how long.

I printed my instructions and went to the bank. My bank charged $35 for the wire. The funds’ destination address on my print out didn’t match what was in my bank’s system and I was concerned my money would end up in purgatory. The bank employee assured me their system was correct which gave me no comfort. I logged into my Kraken account every day for the next few days and saw my wire transfer “pending”. I wired the money on a Friday and the following Thursday the wire cleared and appeared in my Kraken account. Apparently, funding your account the first time takes the longest and subsequent wires will clear faster.

That day Bitcoin was $3,909. I wanted to buy 2 (one for each of my kids) the amount I wired was just short of the $7,818 I needed. So I bought only 1 Bitcoin and had about $3,500 left in my Kraken account. I was glad I finally bought my Bitcoin, but disappointed I procrastinated for so long that I could only afford to buy 1. With my remaining $3,500, I bought some altcoins and I’ll tell you about that adventure in a separate post.

Kraken also has a “Tier 4” which is just like Tier 3 but gives you higher spending limits. This is for ballers, not civilians like me. There’s a whole menu of “leveraged options” and “stop limits” that I’m quite confident I will never use.

So, the moral of my story is if you’re THINKING of buying Bitcoin (or any cryptocurrency), you should set up your account NOW because it’s a very time consuming process. It might be a good idea to sign up for a few exchanges simultaneously so you don’t lose time if you find one platform is not good.  When trying to choose which service to commit to, test out its customer service. If they aren’t responsive when you test them, they won’t be better when you actually need them. When you decide on a platform, fund your account before you’re ready to buy. Wire a small amount to make sure you’re doing it right. When that arrives successfully, wire more money – enough to make a purchase so you’ll be ready when the price is right.

I wish I had the benefit of someone’s experience before I muddled my way through the process. Let me know about your first Bitcoin purchase in the comments section. I’m also happy to answer questions to help you get through the buy in process.