If you’re wondering how cryptocurrency works, you’re not alone. We chat with Maxine Ryan of Bitspark, on the Bitcoin Industry. Here’s what you need to know.

Since its launch in 2009 by the mysterious person or persons that is Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin and all its associated technologies have become the ones to watch in technology, financial, entrepreneurial, news and just about any other circles. As the world has seen Bitcoin’s price continue to spike and profile continue to rise, both the digital currency and everything associated with it have become buzzwords we all need to know. Here, Maxine Ryan, co-founder and COO of Bitspark, explains why we should bother with cryptocurrency and what the industry is all about.

Co-founded by Maxine in 2014, Bitspark is a remittance platform used by companies all over the world, reaching global markets including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Ghana, and Nigeria and with over 150 partners worldwide. Powered by Blockchain technology – essentially, the cogs that make the wheels of her platform turn – Maxine explains that, on Bitspark and with cryptocurrency in general, there is a chain for every transaction that has been made – making it secure, transparent and efficient to send value from A to B. “Bitcoin holds money and lets users send it efficiently via a P2P (Peer to Peer) network,” she elaborates. “It’s sending money over the internet, but the money is in the form of a bitcoin or a part of a bitcoin.”

Seeing as, for the past 20 years, the internet has shaped the way we access information and services, it comes as no surprise that we have begun using the internet as a way of transferring value with incredible ease. And, due to the rise and recent growth of bitcoin, there is a growing realisation that the market is heading towards a digital platform with an increase of investors and players in the bitcoin industry. As of recently, Bitcoin’s value has ascended to record heights by reaching USD $6,200, raising its market cap to USD $102.8 billion…. but is it just a gamble or the future? Here, Maxine helps us out with 5 invaluable tips on how to get started in the world of bitcoin.

Maxine Ryan is a blockchain and remittance expert based in Hong Kong. Her work focuses on bringing value to the financially underserved by creating accessible technology platforms on alternative finance rails. In 2015, Maxine was elected as a ‘Leader of Tomorrow’ by the University of St. Gallen as one of one hundred brilliant achievers and since then has been recognised as a ‘FemTech Leader’ by SWIFT Innotribe. Maxine’s startup has also won international awards for its innovation in payments and is redeemed as one of the pioneers of the bitcoin/blockchain remittance space.

1. Question why you are interested.
If you’re interested because you feel like you’re missing out on something, then it’s not for the right reasons. If you think it’s going to be the future and it’s an application that has something to do with something you might want to do in the future, then that’s where your interest lies. So, question why you want to be interested in the first place, and then I think you could really develop from there.

2. Talk to people in the community.
The people in this community are worldwide and they are seriously passionate about teaching others what this industry is all about. The excitement in the community about getting people involved to spread the word—it’s really interesting. The best way to learn is to teach yourself. Perhaps you gain some information from somebody and think ‘That’s a really interesting point of view,’ then you teach other people who question you what it actually is—it’s a great learning experience.

3. Determine your strategy.
If you want to invest in cryptocurrency long term, then learn more about it. Learn about how it can be traded and how it can be an investment. Find out what you want personally from this, because everybody is so different. Understand the depth of the technology—while it’s being used for payments, it’s also extremely useful for verification. For example, there’s a company called Everledger who put diamonds on the blockchain so they can be verifiable and secure and so that you can’t have any area or space for fraud. There are a lot of fake diamonds flooding the markets, and if you look at Everledger’s blockchain, you are able to verify that the diamond is in fact real. That is just one example of how the blockchain can be applied in so many different areas, which is pretty interesting.

4. Buy and forget.
If you do end up buying a bitcoin for fun, just buy and forget, because it’s volatile. You have to look at its price over-time, and it’s average rather than what it is right at this second. We’re so used to checking our mobile phones all the time and getting instant information, you can get really worried, especially if you’re new in the space.

A good example is that I look after my grandmother’s bitcoin investments and I check them for her around every 3 months. She just gets a message from me every 3 months updating her how much it’s worth currently and so on. It really depends on your personal style, but I think if you’re buying it just to see how it goes, then don’t get too freaked out.

5. Learn where to source information.
Blockchain and bitcoin is completely mainstream now. You can go on Google these days and type in ‘bitcoin’ and ‘blockchain’, and all the major publications have come out with something about it—that’s only high level stuff. Learn where the actual conversations are happening—bitcointalk.org is a good website as it’s a complete community where people can get their thoughts across and also it’s full of people who have been in this game for a really long time.

Bonus tip: What if things go south?
If you’re a novice, don’t put your life saving into it. Be smart about it. It’s not a big scary space at all, but if you’re new to it, then things might not go to plan. Just don’t put in more than you’re willing to lose.

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