The crypto space (aka public blockchains) are the most exciting space in the entire internet right now. The biggest blockchains are Bitcoin (with Bitcoin or BTC as the cryptocurrency), Ethereum (ETH is the cryptocurrency), Polka Dot (with POLKA as the blockchain). Of the above, bitcoin is essentially a currency exchange blockchain by design (exchange bitcoins) with some folks trying to build a multipurpose layer on top of it (Lightning Network). However, Ethereum and the others are multipurpose blockchains effectively allowing computation on the blockchain (so they are world computers if you may). Of these, Ethereum is by far the oldest (started in 2015) and the place where over 90% of public blockchain applications sit. Hence this note focuses on getting started on the Ethereum blockchain. This experience will serve you well if you want to subsequently explore any other blockchain.

CAUTION: Public blockchains are risky. You may lose what you put in in a myriad number of ways:

  1. Scammers- there are anonymous scammers in the public spaces (Discord, twitter, etc) who use ingenious ways to get you to click on links (that may let them read content on your computer/ mobile and browsers like passwords, or prompt you to enter your private key aka Recovery Phrase in websites that they can use to take control of your blockchain account that holds your currency)
  2. Shady projects that 'rug pull' you or steal your funds- public blockchains are permissionless- namely, anyone without KYC can deploy a smart contract on it (smart contracts are the backend of a blockchain application, with the website being the front end). Hence do your due diligence on the projects that you interact with. All the sites mentioned and the links provided in this document are safe. You can follow any new ones you are interested on Twitter and also join their discord channels, and you will almost always get a sense of their legitimacy. Also there are many unicorns among crypto start ups today (both in DeFi and NFTs and Gaming), and they are all legitimate (I haven't come across any that are not). You may lose money by hacking of these projects that you have interacted with as well. This and this are the latest examples. However hacking exploits of Ethereum DAPPs has gone down significantly in the last year and a half.
  3. Crypto currencies are highly volatile. The biggest cryptocurrencies are relatively stable (BTC, ETH), and also stable coins (crypto coins that mirror the US dollar namely, USDT, USDC, Dai LUSD ,etc) track the US dollar closely in value and are stable. The smaller coins and tokens are more volatile.

With this caution out of the way, it is possible to navigate the crypto internet (the part of the internet that is on public blockchains) safely provided one is mindful of the risks. It is in fact a warm, welcoming and international community where a lot of smart people are building new stuff everyday. Much of crypto conversations and decision making happens on the public internet, namely, Twitter, Discord and Github.

Crypto internet may be overwhelming to start with, but once you stick around for a couple of weeks, it gets easy to navigate. You are still early to the blockchain based internet.

Here is how you get started (the first half is India focused, but is similar everywhere).

Sign up on

Binance is an exchange to buy cryptocurrency using regular currency (USD/ INR). It is a Chinese company. I did not know this before I bought on it, so if you want to try out a different exchange, there are some Indian ones like WazirX or CoinDCX where you can buy cryptocurrency in much the same way. It does not matter what exchange you choose, since, this is way to just acquire your cryptocurrency and forms about 5% of your crypto journey. You will not stay on Binance/ WazirX/ CoinDCX for very long! Here I use the flow for Binance as an example, since that is the exchange I used. All of them let you buy crypto currency using INR (which lets you sidestep the hassle of going through bank permissions).

Do KYC on Binance

After you have signed up using both email and mobile number, Binance like all other finance apps, asks for your KYC before letting you do any transactions.

Here is a handy video to register and do KYC on Binance.

A couple of things to remember is that there is a stage called facial verification, which requires you to open your camera and act out facial expressions. This stage is annoying and requires a few tries to get it right. It is better to try this step on the Binance mobile app than the desktop. The second thing is that after completing all the steps, it may take a day or two for Binance to verify your account and let you buy.

Buy Ether on Binance via P2P trading

On Binance you can buy cryptocurrency (in this case Ether, but applies to all major cryptocurrency including Bitcoin) from other Indians via UPI/ PhonePe/IMPS/GPay. The downside to this, is that, it is best suited to purchase small amounts (Rs 10,000 to Rs 1,00,000) on a day, mainly due to the limitations of UPI payment methods. But one can make multiple purchases across days for bigger amounts.

Here is a video explaining how to buy ether using Binance P2P trading. (video relevant till 6:58 min)The video shows purchase of USDT (Tether, which is a stable coin, it mirrors the US dollar, but in India, USDT to INR conversion is higher, hence transactions in INR are a bit more expensive). But the same process is relevant for buying Ether or ETH (or even Bitcoin or BTC)

The video shows process for desktop, but is intuitive enough to perform on the app as well, once someone has watched the video/ transacted on the desktop.