This is probably one of the most common questions I am asked and I have found myself either doing it remotely with someone over the phone, sending instructions by email or, if it’s someone I know, simply dropping in and setting it up for them. After doing this many times, it occurred to me (later than it should have done, really!) to create a simple ‘one size fits all’ set up procedure … and here it is.
There are many different wallets, set ups and different functionalities out there, but this article is designed to get you started on a basic wallet where you can easily buy small amounts of Bitcoin using a bank card and send or receive it to anyone in the world at any time. If you have bought my book ‘How to Explain Bitcoin to your mum’, I’ll also be sending you some Bitcoin to your new wallet to get you started, just follow the simple instructions at the back of the book when you have set up your wallet using the directions below. This process only takes a few minutes, so let’s get started!
Start by going to www.blockchain.com. You should see a screen something like this (but remember these so-called ‘splash’ screens can change all the time and may not be exactly the same)
Click on the ‘get a free wallet’ button like the one I have circled in red above. This will take you to a simple email log in and password creation page as follows:
Just enter your email and create a password. As usual, make something difficult to decipher, but easy to remember. If someone gets your password, it would be like giving someone access to your bank accounts. (Actually, there ARE other checks in place, but it’s technically possible if someone had access to your main device as well as the password). When you click ‘continue’ you’ll see these messages appear at the bottom right of the screen.
Congratulations! Your Bitcoin wallet has been created! All we need to do now is a little verification work and your adventures in cryptocurrency can begin.
You should find yourself at a screen like this one:
Simply click on the ‘get started’ button to acknowledge the message and have a look round the wallet. If your browser prompts you to save your password, you can opt to do this, but remember the usual warnings about security. If anyone else uses your device or you’re on any public machine, simply decline.
You’ll need to verify your account first. Normally, when you first create your account, you’ll be sent an email immediately and it should already be in your inbox, but it’s also worth checking the junk mail box as well as they sometimes end up there. It’ll be from ‘Blockchain’ asking you to click on and confirm your identity. When you do so, it’ll open a new tab with this simple message:
If you haven’t received your email, you can request that it is resent by pressing the ‘resend email’ at the top right of the screen in the blue bar.
Your wallet is now ready to use and you can immediately receive Bitcoin, or, in fact, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash or Stellar. If that’s all you want to do (ie if you were claiming your free Bitcoin from me as a result of buying my book), then you’re done! All you have to do now is use the contact form to send me your send bitcoin address (see below) and proof of purchase and I’ll send it to you for your first balance!
Your wallet address is generated automatically by the system and it is safe to send out. You will, in fact, always need to do this is you want to receive payment. However, NEVER give out your wallet ID, keys or 12 word passphrase which we’ll learn more about in later ‘how to’ sections.
To get your address, simply click on ‘Bitcoin’ under the ‘transactions’ section of the wallet on the left hand side, as shown highlighted below.
This will open a new screen which looks like this:
Simply click on ‘Request’ at the top left of the screen and you’ll get a new screen that looks like this:
Later on, you’ll be able to use this simple wizard to directly request specific amounts from people you may or may not know, but right now, we just want to get the address so some Bitcoin can be sent. This screenshot above shows my own address and it is the long jumble of letters and numbers that look like this:
This would be a nightmare to try and type out correctly, but you’ll notice there’s a handy ‘copy’ button to the right of it. Pressing it causing your address to be automatically copied to the clipboard and it will then ‘paste’ wherever you want it. Easy.
Simply email the address to whoever is sending it to you (or, if you’re claiming your free Bitcoin from me use the contact form) and the Bitcoin will appear in your wallet.
Welcome to the world of cryptocurrency!
I’ll be adding more ‘How to’ sections later on dealing with:
Backup and security
Converting Bitcoin to other currencies
Is there anything you think I should add? Why not contact me and let me know?